All Past Services

Service Date Title Summary Speaker Worship Lead. Song Lead. Pianist Usher Passage Event Meet. Com. Potl.
Oct 25, 2020 Sunday, October 25, 2020

On Sunday, October 25, 2020

Yes
Oct 18, 2020 Sunday, October 18, 2020

On Sunday, October 18, 2020

Yes
Oct 11, 2020 Thanksgiving

On Sunday October 11, 2020

Yes
Oct 04, 2020 Sunday October 4, 2020

On Sunday October 4, 2020

Yes
Sep 27, 2020 Sunday September 27, 2020

On Sunday September 27, 2020

Yes
Sep 20, 2020 Sunday September 20, 2020

On Sunday September 20, 2020

Yes
Sep 13, 2020 Sunday September 13, 2020

On Sunday September 6, 2020

Yes
Sep 06, 2020 On Sunday September 6, 2020

On Sunday September 6, 2020

 

PGIMF will hold its 34th anniversary service

34th anniversary Yes
Aug 30, 2020 Sunday, August 30, 2020

On Sunday, August 30, 2020

Grace Neufeld (Membership Sunday) Rosemary Bell Michael Despotovic
Aug 23, 2020 Sunday, August 23, 2020

On Sunday, August 23, 2020

Henry Klippenstein Paul Thiessen Rosemary Bell Kevin Hiebert
Aug 16, 2020 Sunday, August 16, 2020

On Sunday, August 16, 2020

Gerda and Eric Krause (Membership Sunday) Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell John Lee
Aug 09, 2020 Sunday, August 9, 2020

On Sunday, August 9, 2020, David Gill will speak to us on the Beatitudes. David recently retired as Professor of Workplace Theology & Business Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has also served on the faculties of New College Berkeley, North Park University, and St. Mary’s College. He is the author of seven books including a two volume introduction to Christian ethics: Becoming Good: Building Moral Character and Doing Right: Practicing Ethical Principles (IVP, 2000 & 2004).

David Gill Rosie Perera John Lee
Aug 02, 2020 Sunday, August 2, 2020

On Sunday, August 2, 2020

Michael Despotovic Laura Sportack Rebecca Ruthven Rosie Perera
Jul 26, 2020 Pondering the Presence of God: On the Journey

Claire Goodfellow spoke on pilgrimages, from examples in the Old & New Testaments, Canterbury, and the Camino de Santiago. Are we prepared for the daily journey of following Jesus as disciples in The Way of Christ?

Claire Goodfellow Travis Martin Ruth Enns Michael Despotovic Genesis 12: 1-9; Matthew 28: 16-20
Jul 19, 2020 The Sower, the Seed, and the Soil

Malcolm Guite spoke on the importance of not only the Sower, but also the Seed and the Soil in the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:1-9;18-23) by describing the imagery in the poem “The Sower” from his book Parable and Paradox.

Malcolm Guite Rosie Perera Ruth Enns Kevin Hiebert Matthew 13:1-9;18-23
Jul 12, 2020 Clean hands, Pure hearts, No falsehoods

Kevin Hiebert spoke on the call in Psalm 24:1-4 to avoid bad faith actions (using the example of unethically negotiated treaties), and not give lies a place of honour (i.e. on social media).

 

Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Rosie Perera Psalm 24:1-7; Ephesians 1:3-14
Jul 05, 2020 I am like an olive tree, flourishing

Carla Funk (author and teacher in Victoria) spoke on the image of a green olive tree as the fulcrum in the poetry of Psalm 52, turning in verse 8 to portraying how we can flourish by remaining rooted in the presence of God.

Carla Funk Henry Neufeld Ruth Enns Ruth Enns Kevin Hiebert Psalm 145:8-10; Romans 8:9-11; Matt. 11:16-19;25-30; Psalm 52:8-9
Jun 28, 2020 Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22)

Ruth Enns spoke on the binding of Isaac by Abraham in Genesis 22:1-14, and referred to Benjamin Britten’s musical re-enactment of the story based on the 15th-Century Chester Mystery Plays. What a blessing that most of us are never tested to this extent, and that God is faithful in his ongoing care for people.

NOTE: a BBC recording in 2013 of the full 18-minute performance of “Abraham and Isaac” by Benjamin Britten featuring Ruby Hughes (Soprano), James Gilchrist (Tenor), and Imogen Cooper (Piano) is available on YouTube.

Ruth Enns J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell John Lee Genesis 22:1-14 Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Jun 21, 2020 Bread and Justice at Home

On a weekend when we celebrated World Refugee Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and Father’s Day, we heard John Klassen speak on the historical and Biblical importance of ensuring that spouses and children (including widows and orphans) have their material needs taken care of.

John Klassen Laura Eriksson Ruth Enns Michael Despotovic Psalm 86; Isaiah 25:1,4,6-8; Deut. 10; Deut. 16; Mark 10:13-16; Mark 9:37
Jun 14, 2020 What can men do against such reckless hate?

Chan Yang spoke about the importance of Hope in the face of what can feel like the overwhelming forces of reckless hate with reference to the themes in Isaiah 5 and the Lord of the Rings novels by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Chan Yang Janice Kreider Rosemary Bell Rosemary Bell John Lee Isaiah 53:1-6; Romans 5: 1-5
Jun 07, 2020 Church as: The Dearly Loved of God

Garry Janzen (Executive Minister for Mennonite Church BC) used Colossians 3:12-14 to encourage all congregations to be wise, courageous, creative and safe as our communities begin to reopen and we reflect on the challenges of climate change and racial injustice.

NOTES:

  • Slides were presented during the Zoom meeting, but the video recording is not retained once the audio is posted.
  • Visitors to our Zoom services are most welcome: however, you must contact the Congregational Coordinator at info@pgimf.org to receive the meeting ID and password, and you will be asked to identify yourselves in the service.
Garry Janzen Kevin Hiebert Rosie Perera Colossians 3:5-14
May 31, 2020 Pentecost

Catherine Cooper shared a meditation connecting the promise implied by the necessary fall of Babel (Genesis 11) to our hope for universal communication made possible by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Catherine Cooper Diane Ehling Ruth Enns Kevin Hiebert Psalm 104:24–34, 35b; Acts 2:1–21; Genesis 11:1-9 Pentecost Yes
May 24, 2020 The Ascension of Christ

Laura Sportack shared a meditation in our Zoom online worship service about the Ascension of Christ based on Acts 1:6-11.  She related her experience of Ascension Sunday to other inexplicable events like today’s pandemic that leave us as uncertain as to how to respond, as Jesus’ followers were on his ascension.

Hans Süß von Kulmbach - Christi Himmelfahrt
The Ascension of Christ by Hans von Kulmbach / Public domain (1513)

 

 

Laura Sportack Chan Yang Rosie Perera Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 93:1-5; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 23:44-53
May 17, 2020 How do you love God?

Henry Neufeld challenged us to consider: how do we love God? Can we find the inner light of God shining out of other people, even in ones we may not get along with? Will will love God by loving others, as Jesus told us to do?

Henry Neufeld Rosie Perera Psalm 18:1-6,16-19; John 14:15-21
May 10, 2020 Dwell and Restore

For the fifth Sunday of Easter, we intended to hold our first service at our new home at St. James Community Square, but instead, we held our worship meeting via Zoom. Janice Kreider spoke on “Dwell and Restore” based on John 14:1-17.

Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell John 14:1-17
May 03, 2020 Fourth Sunday of Easter

On Sunday May 3, 2020 PGIMF intended to hold its final service at the Menno Simons Centre, our home for more than 33 years. Until public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic permit us to begin meeting together at the St. James Community Square, we have been conducting online Zoom worship services. Thomas Bergen spoke to us from Edmonton.

NOTE: the response time (but not the prayer time) was recorded and is available on the Members & Adherents page under ‘Full Service Recordings’ (password required).

Thomas Bergen Travis Martin Deberah Shears Kevin Hiebert Hebrews 11:8-16; Acts 1:1-8
Apr 26, 2020 Third Sunday of Easter

On Sunday, April 26, 2020, Easter Sunday was celebrated by Zoom with a time of sharing, singing song with Zoom and prayer.

Paul Thiessen J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns
Apr 19, 2020 Second Sunday of Easter

We gathered in a Zoom meeting to contemplate the time when Jesus appeared to His disciple Thomas.

Annika Krause & Henry Neufeld Curtis Funk Rosemary Bell Kevin Hiebert John 20:19-31 First Sunday after Easter
Apr 12, 2020 Easter Sunday

On Sunday, April 12, 2020 an on-line service was held via Zoom with 61 participants

Easter Readings and Hymns J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Easter Sunday
Apr 05, 2020 Service Cancelled

On Sunday, April 5, 2020, Carla Funk, poet and educator will speak to PGIMF. You can read more about Carla at https://www.carlafunk.com/about/

Carla Funk Curtis Funk Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Palm Sunday Yes
Mar 29, 2020 Service Cancelled

On Sunday, March 29, 2020,

Alice Klassen Nick Penner Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld
Mar 22, 2020 SERVICE CANCELLED

On Sunday, March 22, 2020, J. Evan Kreider was scheduled to speak on “Blindness”.

Karl Brown Sven Eriksson Andre Pekovich Stephanie Jeong John 9:1-41; 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Pssalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14
Mar 15, 2020 Stories (Lent III)

Janice Kreider spoke about the stories that were recorded as miracles in Jesus’ day, and the times of inexplicable blessing in our modern lives. We all know the story of how five loaves and two fish led to the feeding of thousands (John 6:1-14), but do we recognize God working through the volunteers at our local food bank? As visualized by Abba Dorotheus of Gaza (circa 6th Century), the more we try to approach God, the closer we will get to each other. Jesus showed us how loving God and loving your neighbour blends a posture of contemplative worship with a life of caring actions and relationships. [KH]

Janice Kreider Paul Thiessen Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Diane Ehling John 6:1-14, Matthew 11:2-6
Mar 08, 2020 How do we experience God, Part 2

Henry Klippenstein gave the second of two talks entitled, “How do we experience God?”, in which he explores two contrasting approaches to experiencing God as individuals, as well as the ways in which people can experience God through relationships. The first method, which involves a careful and at times imaginative listening of thoughts, is covered in T. M. Luhrmann’s book, “When God Talks Back”. Luhrmann documents the nature of the supernatural experiences that the people of the Vineyard movement claim to experience, and concludes that these people are psychologically healthy individuals. The second method involves contemplative prayer, in which one dedicates time each day to silence and shut off their mind. Though harder than it might first appear, the only trick needed to achieve it is wanting to do it in the first place. It is important to realize, however, that neither of the two methods will be adequate if one does not recognize God in the person sitting next to you. [JL]

Henry Klippenstein J. Evan Kreider Angela Ruthven Deberah Shears Caleb Yang
Mar 01, 2020 How do we experience God, Part 1

Henry Klippenstein gave the first of two talks entitled “How do we experience God?”  Since Peter suggested that we are to be “participants in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4) and since Jesus prayed in Gethsemane that it be possible for us to be one with God (John 17:16-23), just how do we experience our God and participate in ‘the divine nature’?  After the renowned scientist Pascal experienced God most vividly, he was convinced that we experience God more through the heart than through reason.  A scientist of our time, James Tour, also reported experiencing God in an intense way that was clearly life-changing.  Remembering that scripture teaches that we learn about God through experience and not by reading or creeds, Henry’s next talk (March 8, 2020) will explore two contrasting approaches to experiencing God.  [JEK]

Henry Klippenstein J. Evan Kreider Angelina Jeong Ruth Enns Ed Epp John 17:16-23; Acts 9:1-19; John 20:24-29; 2 Peter 1:3-4 Lent 1 Yes
Feb 23, 2020 Transfiguration Sunday

Margaret Trim (Coordinator of Academic Records and Admissions at Vancouver School of Theology), spoke from the lectionary text of Matthew 17:1-9 about the Transfiguration.

Margaret Trim Travis Martin Curtis Funk Deberah Shears Henry Neufeld Exodus 24:12-18; Matthew 17:1-9 Yes
Feb 16, 2020 Three Stories

Henry Neufeld made the point that it’s rare for sermons to be memorable, so they might as well be brief. He shared three stories of people in his life with fair questions about what Christianity is all about. We can learn a lot from the insightful questions of our neighbours who aren’t familiar with “Christianese” but know how to recognize acts of love when they see them. [KH]

NOTE: no recording of the talk is available, at the speaker’s request due to privacy reasons.

Henry Neufeld Karl Brown Paul Thiessen Rosemary Bell Stephanie Jeong Exodus 12:26, Matthew 23:33-34
Feb 09, 2020 Favourite hymns of Faith–and Why

On Sunday, February 9,  2020, Evan Kreider led a meditation on the importance of hymns in our faith, noting that he’s never been moved to tears by a sermon or the reading of Scripture, but there have been times when he couldn’t make it through a hymn due to being overcome by emotion. Various members of the congregation shared a favorite hymn and something significant about it or why it was a favorite. We contemplated each hymn text in silence and then sang the hymn. Tena Neufeld chose “I owe the Lord a morning song”; Hilda Driedger chose “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”; Walter Quiring wanted us to do not a hymn, but John Cage’s 4’33” which involved more silent listening to what was going on around us and inside us; Annie Funk chose “Praise the Lord, Sing Hallelujah”; Sven Eriksson selected “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.” At the end, Curtis Funk performed a piano improvisation on the last hymn. [RP]

Curtis Funk and Evan Kreider Rosie Perera Curtis Funk and Evan Kreider Ruth Enns and Curtis Funk Caleb Yang
Feb 02, 2020 The Bible: Why Bother?

Frances Kitson (VST student and candidate for ordination in the United Church of Canada) asked us why we care about the Bible. She challenged us to engage with the text — not only intellectually — but also as a relationship. While Scripture holds different perspectives in creative tension, it can give us the language to relate to God and others as we journey in faith through a beautiful yet broken world. Like boiling water activating tea leaves, will we let the Scriptures infuse us with life-giving stories that inspire us to work for peace and justice? [KH]

Frances Kitson Curtis Funk J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Psalm 19:1-6; Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 19:14; Micah 6:1-8
Jan 26, 2020 Post-Modern Proclamations

Annika Krause spoke about the awkwardness of “proclaiming the good news” in a post-modern world. Relativism and Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (God as a Genie in a bottle) add to society’s skepticism of organized religion, which is already provoked by the cringe-worthy versions of Christianity that we see in the news and on social media. In Matthew 4, Jesus acted in love to restore health while giving credit to God as the source of unconditional love. Are we prepared to share the theology behind our actions in support of creation care, human rights, and reconciliation with First Nations? [KH]

Annika Krause Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Deborah Shears Stephanie Jeong Matthew 4:12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Yes Yes
Jan 19, 2020 Meaning and Purpose

Loren Balisky, co-founder and Director of External Relations at Kinbrace Community Society, spoke about discovering meaning and purpose for living deep, living long, and living light. How can we understand the calling of God’s will that King David, the Apostle Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus felt even though we don’t always feel a clear sense of guidance? Loren shared how – in retrospect – his life’s path has felt like a series of “Holy” random circumstances of disruption and opportunity. We have much to learn from the stories of refugees who navigate the chaos of forced displacement with a necessarily light attachment to place and possessions. [KH]

Loren Balisky Chan Yang Andre Pekovich Deberah Shears Henry Neufeld Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
Jan 12, 2020 CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW

J. Evan Kreider was scheduled to speak on “First Sunday after Epiphany: The Baptism of Jesus”

Snow made the streets and sidewalks around the Menno Simons difficult to navigate.

 

J. Evan Kreider Paul Thiessen Doug Medley Deborah Shears Caleb Yang Matthew 3:13-17, Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43 First Sunday after Epiphany
Jan 05, 2020 Conflict, Resolution

On Epiphany Sunday, Michael Despotovic spoke about the story between the introduction of a conflict, the end of such conflict, and the resolution of the tension brought on by the conflict. Casually asking, “where are you from?” can be the start of an experience of ethnic or racial discrimination. Michael challenged us to think about how our word choices, especially adjectives, can add unfair qualifiers to peoples’ identity. The traditions of Epiphany celebrate the Magi as outsiders – Gentiles – who belong in the story of Christ while not being Jewish. Can we watch our words without coming across as judgmental to those who haven’t yet shifted their language to be more inclusive and less likely to cause tension? [KH]

Michael Despotovich Andre Pekovich J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Epiphany
Dec 29, 2019 [No Service at Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship]

No service will be held in the Menno Simons Centre chapel on Sunday, December 29th.

 

Dec 22, 2019 The Light of the World, the Light of Life: A Service of Lessons and Carols

Curtis Funk led us in a service of Lessons and Carols written by Rosie Perera for the 4th Sunday of Advent, on the theme of “The Light of the World, the Light of Life.” The video and audio recordings of the service are available for use by members & adherents only (password protected).

The service was preceded by our annual Christmas potluck breakfast at 9:00am.

Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Rosemary Bell Chris Skinner Advent IV Yes
Dec 15, 2019 What do we do with Surprise?

Laura Eriksson gave us, as her “offering”, thoughts about surprises. Surprises can make us laugh, weep, mourn, be overjoyed or worried. Our Advent and Christmas stories about Elizabeth, Zacharias, Mary, the shepherds, and Herod are filled with surprises. Laura addressed three questions: (1) What might surprises look like? (2) How did some of the Christmas characters respond to surprise? (3) What do we do with our surprises and how does faith in our God shape our responses to surprise? For the past decade, Laura has been paying attention to the surprises in her life, large and small, writing about them in her daily journal. [JEK]

Photo by Rosie Perera

Laura Eriksson Karl Brown Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Luke 1:5-20; Luke 1:26-38; Isaiah 40:3-5, 25-31 Advent III
Dec 08, 2019 Love not LAWS

Kevin Hiebert opened up with a mock news report about the complete apparent absence of malice in fully-automated robots before talking about LAWS, or Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. LAWS are robots that can independently make decisions on who lives and dies. Kevin likened the usage and development of LAWS to that of nuclear weapons, and asserted that as Christians we should support the Campaign to Ban Killer Robots on www.stopkillerrobots.org [JL].

Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Diane Ehling Advent II
Dec 01, 2019 The Child of Welcome

Laura Sportack opened up the Advent Season with a meditation on Isaiah 2:2-3 and how the prophetic welcoming of all nations relates to the three advents (comings) of Jesus Christ. The first advent is the coming of Jesus in a manger, the second is the return of the Messiah in the future, and the third is the welcoming of Jesus in our hearts. With an ever-increasing cry for inclusion from the world, we are called to accept Jesus’ teaching and fulfill the prophesy from Isaiah by welcoming people from all nations into the spiritual home of God. [JL]

Laura Sportack Michael Despotovic Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Ed Epp Advent I Yes
Nov 24, 2019 What’s In A Word?

On Eternity Sunday, Dr. Ruth Derksen (Ph.D. Philosophy of Languages, and author of Daughters in the City: Mennonite Maids in Vancouver) spoke on “What’s in a Word? Can faith mean anything outside of the language used to express it?” Language is like a bottle, a house with windows, or eye-glasses — lenses through which we understand the world. Does the word Christian fully convey our response to how the Word became flesh and dwelt among us? [KH]

Ruth Derksen Janice Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld John 1: 1-5 Eternity Sunday Yes
Nov 17, 2019 Alone or Together?

Sue Nickel (Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries) pointed out how the Apostle Paul’s call to rejoice and not worry about anything in Philippians 4 seems infeasible in the face of chronic depression, especially one triggered by deep trauma. In the loneliness of such pain, we can take comfort that our worth as a human being is based on nothing more than being a beloved, chosen, and forgiven child of God. As we come alongside those with mental health challenges, we can avoid stigmatizing their need for treatment and share how the example of Jesus offers the light of hope in all circumstances. [KH]

Soul Hope - calligraphy on pulpit

Sue Nickel Laura Eriksson Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Diane Ehling Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 5:15 -26; Philippians 4:4-9
Nov 10, 2019 Peace Sunday 2019

On Sunday November 10, 2019, a joint service for Peace Sunday was held with other congregations:

  • Peace Church on 52nd (hosting church)
  • Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship
  • Sherbrooke Mennonite
  • Peace Mennonite Church (Richmond)
  • Chinatown Peace Church

Listen to the Scripture Reading of Micah 6:8 in English, Spanish, German, Korean and Cantonese, followed by Lydia Cruttwell’s sermon ‘Is There Peace?‘ (audio, 19 minutes, 27 seconds).

Read the article Many People – One Church (2-page PDF) by Henry Neufeld, as published in the Nov. 13, 2019 issue of the MCBC Connect newsletter.

Peace Church on 52nd Avenue, Vancouver, BC on Peace Sunday November 10, 2019

Photo by Sue Kim

[Joint worship service at Peace Church on 52nd Avenue, 659 East 52nd Ave.] Peace Sunday
Nov 03, 2019 Friendship and Non-Violent Resistance to Oppression

Dr. Anne-Marie Ellithorpe (Ph.D., University of Queensland, currently living in Vancouver) spoke on Friendship and Non-Violent Resistance to Oppression. In the 1880s, two Maori leaders in New Zealand, Te Whiti o Rongomai & Tohu Kaka, led their community in peaceful protests, marked by white feathers as a sign of peace. What Gandhi learnt about Parihaka helped develop his pacifist understandings, which in turn inspired Martin Luther King Jr. and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. May we too be willing to compassionately challenge injustice, as a necessary outworking of civic friendship that wills good for both the oppressor and the oppressed. [KH]

Anne-Marie Ellithorpe Rosie Perera Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Ed Epp Isaiah 2:1-4; Matthew 5:38-42
Oct 27, 2019 Philosophy, Wisdom, and a Gospel of Peace

Dr. Myron A. Penner (Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy at Trinity Western University and Director of the Humanitas Anabaptist-Mennonite Centre for Faith and Learning) told two stories about breaking up with religion. Early Western philosophers used Reason to critique the belief system based on the epic poems of the Greek pantheon. Jesus challenged the forms of Judaism that were ignoring the poor by reading Isaiah 61 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour at the start of his ministry. A theological method called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral suggests that truth can be found through a combination of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. How can we best share the gospel of peace and reconciliation—a message of good news to the disadvantaged and oppressed? [KH]

Myron Penner J. Evan Kreider Michael Despotovich Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Luke 4:14-20 Yes Yes
Oct 20, 2019 Can Pain Be A Gift? Service @ St. James Community Square

Dr. Paul Thiessen (MD, FRCPC) informed us of new possibilities in living the full experience of being human in his talk on “Can Pain Be A Gift?”, influenced by the book ‘The Gift of Pain’ by Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey, which explores pain through the lens of leprosy where patients lose their sense of pain in the areas affected by infection and thereby encounter grievous harm. This provides a window on the broader subject of pain and suffering. Paul Brand was an orthopedic surgeon who spent his life in India performing corrective surgery on those afflicted by leprosy.

Paul and Travis at St. James Community Square Room 104

Note: this service was our second trial of new potential homes for our congregation and took place at St. James Community Square in Room 104 of 3214 W. 10th Ave. in Vancouver, off Trutch Street.

Paul Thiessen Travis Martin Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Romans 5:1-5; Matthew 8:1-13; Psalm 121; 2Kings 5:1-15
Oct 13, 2019 Readings and Songs for Thanksgiving

On Sunday, October 13, 2019  PGIMF welcomed June & Calvin Lee and Sue Kim & Jung Yang as members of PGIMF in a special Thanksgiving service created and conducted by moderator Veronica Dyck.

Veronica Dyck Veronica Dyck J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Readings and Songs for Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Sunday Yes
Oct 06, 2019 Celebrating the coming of the Kingdom of God

John Klassen, Ph.D. (Professor Emeritus of History at TWU) spoke on the passages in Matthew which show how the kingdom of heaven is associated with agricultural growth and sharing the earth’s bounty. The 2016 book Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg includes many examples of social and technological advancements in the 19th & 20th Centuries which have contributed to the relief of much human suffering and greatly increased average life expectancy. In the same way that Mary’s Magnificat used the past tense to anticipate the blessings of God’s presence with us, can we celebrate the material progress of the past 200 years and look forward to a bright future? [KH]

John Klassen Paul Thiessen Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Henry Neufeld Matthew texts; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2
Sep 29, 2019 Where are we in the story

Janice Kreider spoke at Menno Court on “Where are We in the Story?” In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus told the story of the beggar, Lazarus, at Abraham’s side beyond the grave, and the unnamed rich man who regretted not listening to Moses and the Prophets. Benjamin Unruh was a well-educated Russian Mennonite who explored emigration options from the Ukraine in the 1920s. The 16th Century baroness Helena von Freyberg in Tirol, Austria, used her wealth and status to support the fledgling Anabaptist movement. Where are we in the many stories of need and injustice in the world today? Are we supporting the prophetic advocates among us, are we perpetuating these problems, or do we need to repent because we missed taking a more radical action that would have been the better way? [KH]

The Studienkomission of 1920. A.A. Friesen, C.H. Warkentin, B.H. Unruh and J.J. Esau.In this photo, Benjamin Unruh (mentioned in the sermon) is third from the left. Others are A.A. Friesen (with the wide smile), J.J. Esau, and K. Warkentin in Hillsboro, Kansas, July 1920. A.A. Friesen is Ruth Enns’s grandfather,  who was part of the committee from Russia that was looking for places to bring the Russian Mennonite refugees. John B. Toews recently published an article on Ruth’s Grandpa Friesen.  Here’s a quote from it: “After B.H. Unruh returned to Germany, Friesen became the pivotal figure in North America, exploring settlement possibilities for his Russian Mennonite constituency.”  His papers are in the CMBC archives.

Janice Kreider Alice Klassen J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Diane Ehling Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Psalm 146; I Tim 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31
Sep 22, 2019 Singing the Church’s Song

Curtis Funk shared his views on the many hymns that are like works of art which draw us in and enrich our lives. Congregational singing is a uniquely corporate worship activity. Inspired music can move us into moments of sublime transcendence. Curtis’ sermon was delivered between songs led by Evan, which have been mostly edited out for brevity, with a few kept in the recording for context. Ben Horch referred to some of our most familiar hymns as Kernlieder (“kernel songs” in German). Through hymns, we can declare that Jesus Christ is Lord! [KH]

Curtis Funk J. Evan Kreider Curtis Funk/J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Psalm 33:1-3; Psalm 96:1-6; 2 Chronicles 5:1-5; 7; 11-14; Ephesians 5:1-2; 6-9; 15-20; Philippians 2:1-10
Sep 15, 2019 Teach us to Pray

J. Evan Kreider asked us to consider the many examples of faithful people making fervent prayers to our majestic Creator for their specific requests. In our communal prayers, if God already knows what’s on our hearts, isn’t it enough to share our joys and concerns and then conclude with the Lord’s Prayer? The words we choose in prayer can help us better understand how to keep asking, searching, and knocking at the door. When a disciple asked Jesus, “teach us to pray” in Luke 11, the only promise Jesus made was that the Holy Spirit will be given to those who ask. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Diane Ehling Paul Thiessen Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Luke 11:1-13; Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:6-19 Yes
Sep 08, 2019 Finding Our Way in the Wilderness

April Yamasaki (Resident Author with Valley CrossWay Church, Editor of Purpose magazine, and freelance writer & speaker) spoke on “Finding Our Way in the Wilderness”. Isaiah 43 reminds us that as amazing as it was how the people of Israel (as a group, not specific individuals) were brought out of slavery from Egypt, God was about to do a new thing to give them hope despite their exile in Babylon. Even with so many experiences of God’s faithfulness, we can’t set up camp in the past, but can look forward to a way through our own “wilderness” (uncertain changes in studies, jobs, relationships, politics, and more). Our identity can be found in belonging to God, rather than in our living circumstances or vocation. [KH]

We were blessed by special music from April’s friend LoraLyn Stobbe Dijk. After the service, the 34th cohort of student residents of the Menno Simons Centre joined us for the last welcome BBQ at 4000 West 11th Avenue.

April Yamasaki Rosie Perera Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Isaiah 43:1-3a, 16-21 Yes
Sep 01, 2019 Covenant Paths to Reconciliation

Jodi Spargur, a graduate of Regent College and a founding pastor of a church made up of many indigenous people (God’s House of Many Faces), spoke about reconciliation and what it means to play the part of the accused instead of the hero. Jodi describes herself as “a settler of Nordic/German heritage living and working on the unceded territory of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Peoples.” As such, even though she never perpetrated against the indigenous people, the role she needs to play if she wants to truly bring reconciliation is that of a perpetrator asking for forgiveness. Jodi is currently leading the work of Healing at the Wounding Place, based out of Grandview Calvary Baptist Church, looking to engage people of faith and indigenous communities in walking into whole, healing and just relationships. [JL]

Jodi Spargur Paul Thiessen Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Ed Epp Luke 3:16-29 Yes
Aug 25, 2019 Wonder and Awe

Karl Brown spoke about how wonder and awe bring us closer to God and how we must encourage it in our lives. When Jesus instantly healed the bent-over woman (Luke 13), the synagogue leader obsessed over the sabbath rulebook instead of recognizing the miracle. We can build up our sense of wonder by thinking of everything we see as if it’s for the first time, or potentially the last time, rather than exercising our sense of greed. Wonderful things come into our lives when we pay attention to the myriad amazing creations of God. [KH]

Karl Brown Andre Pekovich Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Jeremiah 1:4-10, Hebrews 12:18-29, Luke 13:10-17
Aug 18, 2019 A Message of Reconciliation

Young Tae Choi (M.Div., worship leader at Dunwood Place Seniors Complex) spoke about two important motivations in serving ministries—the fear of God and the love of Christ—as exemplified in the lives of the apostle Paul (with reference to 2 Cor. 5:11-20) and that of a memorable Korean minister, Yang-won Son. Paul didn’t give up on the immature congregation of Corinth because he believed that the reconciling ministry of Christ was the best model for promoting reverential awe for the holiness of God. Pastor Son in the town of Soon-chun did not want the murderer of his two teenage sons executed, but adopted the perpetrator as his own son and led him to Christ. As ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation, what are our motivations for serving the church and the world? [KH]

 

Young Tae Choi Chan Yang J. Evan Kreider June Lee Ed Epp 2 Cor. 5:11-20
Aug 11, 2019 The Sacrifice

Aslam Bulbulia and Shagufta Pasta (married couple) presented stories and reflections on what the annual celebration of Eid al-Adha means to the Muslim community. The accounts of faithful obedience by both Abraham and Hagar in the Abrahamic traditions demonstrate a persistent hope which is rooted in action. The Feast of the Sacrifice is an opportunity to consider how the sacred gift of life that we as meat-eaters receive from animals should inform our ethics of eating and living the rest of the year. After the service, a small celebratory meal was shared. [KH]

Aslam Bulbulia and Shagufta Pasta Michael Despotovic Travis Martin Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld
Aug 04, 2019 Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Angelika Dawson, communications manager for Communitas Care Services, spoke on the relevance of Psalm 88 (The Message) to those suffering with issues of mental health.  Although Psalm 88 is a deep lament and an expression of utter despair, this Psalm gives us three gifts: #1 it shows us what deep, dark despair looks like, #2 it gives us a voice in the darkness, #3 in that darkness, an expression of deep faith. Psalm 88 gives us permission to express our despair without judgment and in doing so, enables us to deepen our relationship with God. [JL]

Angelika Dawson Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Chris Skinner Psalm 139, Psalm 88
Jul 28, 2019 This is My New Commandment

Karl Brown delivered J. Evan Kreider’s message on the new commandment that Jesus gave his disciples in John 13:34, “that you love one another.” In anticipation of his imminent death, Jesus was surprisingly direct with this imperative to his followers. Of all the things that Jesus could have emphasized in his final days, he didn’t focus on doctrine, interpretation, or a particular spiritual discipline. The early church grew rapidly in no small part due to their emphasis on living as a visibly caring community. May we too be recognized as disciples of Christ by our love for one another. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Acts 11:1-18 | Psalm 148 | Revelation 21:1-6 | John 13:31-35
Jul 21, 2019 Recognition

Matthia Langone (MATS Regent College, D.Min. VST, iconographer and lecturer) walked us through the context and meaning portrayed in her painting of the occasion of Mary’s visitation with her cousin Elizabeth as recorded in Luke 1:39-45. The more important reality of that scene was the moment of recognition for both women of the mystery of God’s working in their lives, also witnessed by a mute Zechariah. Mary’s song of praise (The Magnificat) was prompted by this moment of revelation, not the archangel’s earlier annunciation to her, as we might have expected. Christ’s ministry was all about helping us to recognize God, asking us all: “who do you say that I am?” [KH]

Matthia Langone painting The Recognition (2019)

Recognition (2019 painting by Matthia Langone) – photo provided by Veronica Dyck

 

Matthia Langone Janice Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Luke 1:39-57, Romans 12:9-21, I Samuel 2:1-10
Jul 14, 2019 The Indirection of Joy

Laura Sportack spoke about the strange and elusive nature of joy. Specifically, she spoke about The Otherness of Joy (Deut. 30:9-16); The Direction of Joy (Psalm 25:1-10); The Communion of Joy (Col. 1:3-14);  and The Paradox of Joy (Luke 10:25-36).. While attempting to “capture” joy through pleasant experiences can often lead to disappointment, joy can manifest itself spontaneously through sharing, caring about others, and allowing oneself to be vulnerable. [JL]

 

Laura Sportack Travis Martin Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Deuteronomy 30:9-16; Psalm 25:1-10; Colossians 1:3-14; Luke 10:25-36
Jul 07, 2019 The God who became poor & the rights of the poor

Steve Heinrichs (Director, Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada) reminded us that one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is for faith groups to support the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Steve was challenged to find concrete ways to embody his conviction that reconciliation is critical for the church to fully recognize that God became poor in Jesus. With other church leaders, Steve discerned that he was called to accept the invitation from the Tsleil-Waututh to support the defense of their land and water against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. How much is reconciliation worth to us, and what are we doing about it? [KH]

 

Steve Heinrichs Karl Brown Paul Thiessen Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld 2Corinthians 8:9
Jun 30, 2019 ***No service at PGIMF*** Joint service with Mennonite Church Canada assembly

On Sunday June 30, 2019, there will be no service at PGIMF. Instead, we are invited to the joint service with Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Abbotsford. For more information see http://ignitegathering2019.ca.

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Jun 23, 2019 ***No Service at PGIMF*** Worship in the Park, Ecumenical Service, June 23, 2019

On Sunday, June 23, 2019, we will be joining other local Point Grey congregations for a joint worship service in Trimble Park (2250 Trimble Street, Vancouver, several blocks north of West 10th Avenue).

Worship in the Park Poster 2019

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Jun 16, 2019 Stories of Transformation

Henry Neufeld told the stories of a strange radical group called the Sons of Freedom and their peace-loving parent group, the Doukhobors. The Doukhobors, a communal and spiritual Christian group, were pacifists living in Russia before the country started persecuting them. They were able to escape thanks to generous help from the British Quakers and Leo Tolstoy; they first went to Cyprus, then to Canada after realizing that the living conditions weren’t favorable. In the 1930s, the Sons of Freedom had expressed anti-government sentiments and disdain for anything government-related in a rather destructive manner; they had nude protests and destroyed government properties. Even though some of the descendants of the recipients of that kindness ended up doing destructive things, that does not negate the value of “senseless acts of kindness”. [JL]

Henry Neufeld Laura Sportack Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Luke 6:20-36; Acts 17:1-7(JB); James 1:22-27
Jun 09, 2019 Membership & Pentecost Sunday

Four new members joined the church. We are exceedingly pleased to welcome Caleb, Angelina, Stephanie, and Chan. It was Pentecost and Communion was held.

NOTE: the audio recording posted here includes all four testimonies after a brief introduction by the worship leader, Andre.

Andre Pekovich Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Pentecost Yes
Jun 02, 2019 The Last Shall Be First: The Revolutionary Teaching of Jesus

Hephzibah (“Hepsi”) Chand, a graduate of Regent College in pastoral studies, spoke on Jesus’ counter-intuitive parable of the vineyard workers. In the parable, the housekeeper not only paid the workers who worked one hour first, he paid them the same amount as the first batch of workers. It is really easy and unwise for the ‘hard-working’ Christians to become jealous when Jesus shows compassion for “last-minute’ Christians. [JL]

Hephzibah Chand Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Diane Ehling Matthew 20:1-16; Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 2; Acts 16:16-34
May 26, 2019 Camp Luther

On Sunday, May 26, 2019, PGIMF held its annual church retreat at Camp Luther on the theme “Piecing it Together” where the fellowship demonstrated skill and creativity in a wide variety of arts and crafts from clay modelling, rug weaving, calligraphy and stained glass, to square dancing.

Travis Martin and Rosie Perera N/A
May 19, 2019 Greetings and encouragement from Colombia

Jon Nofziger returned from an MCC learning tour in Colombia and brought back greetings from the Mennonite Brethren Churches there. Three years into the country’s peace accord process, there is still much to do in terms of practical peacebuilding, including finding alternatives to the lucrative drug trade for farmers and former rebels. In the Chocó region, children at peace clubs are introducing their parents to a different way of solving conflicts. Nonviolence is a core part of the Anabaptist identity in a context where the risk of violence is very real. [KH]

Jon Nofziger Janice Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Colossians 4:7-17; Acts 11:1-18
May 12, 2019 How shall we address God?

Gareth Brandt (Professor of Practical Theology – Columbia Bible College) shared his poetry about three names that metaphorically describe God: “I Am” (YHWH, too holy to be pronounceable), “Nursing Mother” (more than just feminine aspects of God as Father), and “Abba” (Daddy, as Jesus’ very personal term of endearment). The more we open up to the mystery of God’s many names, the less likely we are to fall into idolatry, since God cannot be confined to a single metaphor. In gathering together to share our language for God’s working in our lives, we are inspired to respond in worship and in life. [KH]

Gareth Brandt Curtis Funk J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Exodus 3:1-15; Isaiah 46:3-4, 49:15-16; Romans 8:14-16
May 05, 2019 Sabbath as Discipline

Steve Anonby challenged us to think of the Sabbath as a discipline to be embraced, not legalistically, but as a way to respect God’s command that we periodically rest. The intentional “waste” of a day discourages us from the gluttonous exploitation of our God-given time. Making every effort to rest each week heals our bodies and minds, awakens our creativity, and helps us reflect, ponder and gain perspective. Like John Cage’s composition of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, Steve tested our discomfort with 50 seconds silence, which felt like an eternity! [KH]

Steve Anonby Paul Thiessen J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Luke 13:10-16; Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 25:3-7; Psalm 30
Apr 28, 2019 The Sheep of His Pasture

Ron Reed (founding Artistic Director of Pacific Theatre) offered insight into what it means to be a sheep of the Sheperd, and how difficult they can often be. Ron talked of some of the problems that came with managing Pacific Theatre, and how it seeped into both his artistic pursuits and his spiritual life. He then shared a painting “Sermon on the Mount”  by Claude Lorrain and commented on various parts of it. Being a sheep doesn’t necessarily mean that you are docile, and being comforted isn’t necessarily comfortable. [JL]

There was also a Congregational Annual Meeting immediately following the service, at which the business of the church was discussed and plans made for the coming year.

Ron Reed Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:9-11; John 10:1-16 Yes
Apr 21, 2019 Easter Sunday

You are warmly welcomed to our Easter Sunday service, beginning with a potluck breakfast at 9:00 a.m. sharp, followed by our traditional service of scriptures and songs celebrating the risen Lord.

Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Easter Sunday Yes
Apr 14, 2019 Holy (Redacted)!

On Palm Sunday, we heard from Anita Fast (former worker with Christian Peacemaker Teams, and current Registrar at Vancouver School of Theology) on the power of Christ to evoke praise for God from all creation. While the events of the week leading up to Easter contain betrayal and murder, Jesus brought holiness to an otherwise repulsive situation. Christ’s rebuke of the Pharisees’ attempts to silence his palm-waving supporters echoed the stones crying out for justice in Habakkuk 2:11-12. How blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord – Hallelujah! [KH]

Anita Fast Karl Brown Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Luke 19:28-40 Yes
Apr 07, 2019 Mark series: The Identity of Jesus; Jesus the Hospitable One

Thomas Bergen (Residence Coordinator at the Menno Simons Centre and alumnus of Regent College), continued his series on Mark: The Identity of  Jesus with a comparison of Herod’s death-dealing banquet and Jesus’ life-giving banquet and a challenge for Jesus’ disciples to reflect Jesus’ hospitality. While Herold’s banquet took the life of John the Baptist, Jesus saved lives by creating abundance from 5 loaves and 2 fish. When those at Herold’s banquet were grabbing for power, Jesus shared power with others. When Herold saved face by hosting a banquet for show, Jesus took risks by opening himself up so that others may be saved. [JL]

5th Sunday of Lent

Thomas Bergen Veronica Dyck Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Mark 6:17-44 Lent V
Mar 31, 2019 Recovery from Addiction

On the fourth Sunday of Lent, Jeff C. Borden, in private practice and teaching, and as the Executive Director of the Place of Refuge transitional living program in Vancouver, spoke on the hope found in stories of recovery from addiction. Addictions to drugs, alcohol, or gambling can be the consequence of pain, isolation, peer pressure, or mental health barriers. The society’s program — started by several Mennonite churches in South Vancouver — uses an abstinence-based model which includes assisting in the spiritual recovery of the individual. It can take a year or two for people to get well and regain stability in their lives by living in a safe environment with gentle support. [KH]

Jeff Borden Paul Thiessen Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:11-32 Lent IV Yes
Mar 24, 2019 Mountains

On the 3rd Sunday of Lent, former Menno Simons Centre resident and PGIMF alumna, Heather Pauls Murray, reflected on ways in which mountain hiking has nourished her soul and life. In antiquity, many high places were thought to be so special spiritually that they were dedicated to the gods. Millennia later, even secular Romantic poets felt that the vastness of mountains offered a sense of the infinite. We too, like Jesus, should take time to experience mountains with the intent of getting new perspectives on the ruts of our thinking and daily living. [JEK]

Heather Murray Michael Despotovic Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Henry Neufeld Psalm 121:1-8; Isaiah 55:1-9; Luke 10:38-42 Lent III
Mar 17, 2019 Perfectly placed artifacts

On Sunday, March 17, 2019, Menno Simons Centre alumnus Kevin Hiebert explored the conflict raised in students reared on a Creationist interpretation of Biblical texts when they come up against scientific evidence in university classes and debates. In a talk entitled “Perfectly Placed Artifacts”, Kevin noted that popular religionists such as the Hembree family (JOY TV) offer arguments laced with fallacies to support positions favouring revealed truth and over-simplified history, while dismissing the evidence of archaeology, sociology, biology, geology and history. Yet scientists since before Darwin have for centuries allowed faith to inform science without abolishing it. In the best scientific tradition, Kevin dismissed the interfering God of young-earth archaeology and intelligent design, favouring instead our God the Creator and Sustainer, whose care for us best supports our development as humans while keeping the findings of science in perspective. Kevin cites Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (1969) as signal support in this, calling on 1 Cor. 13:10-11 in helping us put away childish things in favour of the full knowledge God offers. [AP].

Kevin Hiebert Alice Klassen Travis Martin Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Lent II
Mar 10, 2019 Membership Sunday

Four new members joined the church from other congregations.  We are exceedingly pleased to welcome Michael, Travis, Laura and Gerry.  It was the 1st Sunday of Lent and Communion was held.

NOTE: the audio recording posted here includes two of the four testimonies after a brief introduction by the worship leader, Veronica. The other two testimonies are available to listen to on the CD only.

N/A - no sermon Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Lent 1 Yes
Mar 03, 2019 Jesus, the Teaching One

Thomas Bergen (Residence Coordinator at the Menno Simons Centre and alumnus of Regent College), continued his series on Mark: The Identity of Jesus. Jesus asked hundreds of questions and answered most questions posed to him with even more in reply, inspiring amazement in his listeners. As a Master Teacher, Jesus facilitated a learning process of self-discovery by telling stories and parables to describe the as-yet-unknown reality of the Kingdom of God. The Parable of the Soils in Mark 4 defines the 3 types of disciples who fail to fully learn from Christ: schmoozers (self-serving flatterers), flakes (like the rich young ruler, hoping for a different answer), and logic-choppers (questioning purely to impress). Are we asking the right questions? [KH]

Thomas Bergen Travis Martin J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ed Epp Mark 4:1-20
Feb 24, 2019 Not Simple at All

Dori Zerbe Cornelsen, Director of Development for Canadian Mennonite University and former PGIMFer, spoke on Luke 6:27–38, a favourite Anabaptist passage which instructs us to be different from just about everybody else in the world by actually treating “others as you would like people to treat you.”  Some modern politicians prefer that we view ‘the others’ as our enemies, that we objectify people instead of learning to know those who angrily protest against our views.  As part of his upside-down approach to Kingdom, Jesus radically asks that we not think of anybody as being ‘the others’ or even as our enemies, but instead “love”, “do good to”, “bless”, and “pray for” those who do not agree with our world view.” [JEK]

 

Dori Zerbe Cornelsen Janice Kreider Curtis Funk Andre Pekovich Diane Ehling Luke 6:27 - 38 Yes
Feb 17, 2019 “Geist und Wurst”

J. Evan Kreider spoke on “Geist und Wurst” in reference to The Affair of the Sausages (1522) – the Swiss Reformation challenge to church-mandated fasting. Abstaining or fasting during Lent can help us focus on prayers of repentance, mourning, or healing. In the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (after excluding the 6 Sundays), we might consider giving up certain foods or luxuries and donating the savings to charity. But the Biblical examples of fasting are clear that it must not be for show, and God’s desire is that we loosen the bonds of injustice (Isaiah 58:6). [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Chan Yang Paul Thiessen Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Isaiah 58:3-9; Joel 2:12-16; Matt 4:1-4; Matt 6:16-18 Special music: Silas and Godwin Friesen
Feb 10, 2019 Caring for God’s Created World (Pt 2)

Andrea Perrett gave the second of a 2-part series on Caring for God’s Created World: Lessons from a trip to Malawi with Canadian Food Grains Bank on behalf of Presbyterian World Service & Development. Christian aid workers from the West are increasingly being equipped by the humility and spontaneous prayer demonstrated in the African communities they’re helping. The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians is an example of a reciprocal relationship of mutual blessing. We can experience gratitude through the singing of the staff at a recently-constructed maternity hospital. [KH]

NOTE: you may also watch the 23-minute narrated slideshow (streaming 720p).

 

Andrea Perrett Rosie Perera J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Philippians 1: 1-11
Feb 03, 2019 Equipping

Andrea Perrett gave the first of a 2-sermon series on Caring for God’s Created World: Lessons from a trip to Malawi with Canadian Food Grains Bank on behalf of Presbyterian World Service & Development. She showed photos and stories about the conservation agriculture projects in that country in southern Africa. By equipping farmers with the knowledge of sustainable and affordable farming techniques, communities can be more resilient to the effects of climate change. Ephesians 4:16 encourages us to build each other up in love. The materially-wealthy parts of the Body of Christ can be equipped by lessons in gratitude, prayer and caring from the church in the developing world. [KH]

NOTE: you may also watch the 21-minute narrated slideshow (streaming 720p).

Andrea Perrett Diane Ehling Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Ed Epp Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16
Jan 27, 2019 Fellowship is Like Oil on the Head

Annika Krause gave the second of a two-part sermon series on fellowship. Psalm 133 tells us how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! When a member of the Body of Christ (as described in 1 Corinthians 12) inflicts pain, the church as a whole suffers for it, including the one who caused it. Like the precious oil poured out in abundance at High Priest Aaron’s ordination, the blessing of order and peace flows over us as we seek community and reconciliation together. May we all as Brothers and Sisters in Christ be gracious with each other in the upcoming church and denominational annual meetings. [KH]

Annika Krause Andre Pekovich Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Psalm 133 Yes Yes
Jan 20, 2019 Fellowship By One and the Same Spirit

On World Fellowship Sunday, Annika Krause gave the first of a two-part sermon series on being open to fellowship with Christians having a variety of gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. As a demonstration of one culture’s unique form of expressing deep theological truths, she played the gospel song Spirit in the Dark (2002, The Blind Boys of Alabama). The World Council of Churches shared 12 Faces of Hope as part of a campaign seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land. Our traditions and stories as Mennonites are only one part of the Body of Christ. Will we make space for the voices of other believers, including Palestinian and First Nations Christians? [KH]

Annika Krause Karl Brown Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld 1 Cor. 12:1-13
Jan 13, 2019 The Road to Character

Henry Klippenstein continued the exploration of the metaphors of Adam 1 and Adam 2 (which Henry Neufeld started in a sermon on Oct. 28, 2018) and the development of moral character described in David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. Two of the stories in the book particularly demonstrate a model of divine grace promoted by St. Augustine: Mary Anne Evans (a.k.a. George Eliot) and Dorothy Day (co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement). Those who feel touched by Grace seek to delight God. In community, may we each strive to be a better person than we were yesterday – as we belong to God and to each other. [KH]

Henry Klippenstein J. Evan Kreider Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Proverbs 2:1-15 & 20-22; Ephesians 4:1-7, 14-16; Acts 1:12-14
Jan 06, 2019 God, and God’s People

On Epiphany Sunday, John Klassen, Ph.D. (Professor Emeritus of History at TWU) spoke on the history of God and God’s people, from Genesis to Revelation. Throughout the intertwining of good and evil by humankind, after periodic rebukes, God is quick to return to mercy – a comingling of punishment and grace. The final words of the Bible include an inclusive call to let anyone who wishes take the free gift of the water of life (Rev. 22:17). [KH]

During the service, our annual focus on church membership reminded us that we can express our commitment to Christ through baptism and participation in the local and wider church.

John Klassen Curtis Funk J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Chris Skinner Genesis 8:20-21; Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 17:15-16; Isaiah 30:1-5; Isaiah 40:1-5; Luke 5:17-26; Revelation 22:12-21. Epiphany
Dec 30, 2018 No Service – last Sunday of 2018

No service will be held in the MSC chapel. You may want to attend the joint Downtown Eastside service to be hosted at the Chinatown Peace Church (Mennonite) at 375 East Pender, beginning at 11 a.m. Artisan (Mennonite Brethren) is one of the other congregations that will be part of this. See details at https://www.chinatownpeace.ca/events-calendar/2018/12/30/dtes-churches-combined-gathering

DTES Churches Combined Gathering, December 30, 11:00am: Chinatown Peace Church is hosting the DTES churches for a worship service followed by a potluck lunch of soup and buns.  Please talk with Sandra if you would like to help out with the lunch prep. Everyone is invited to consider bringing a pot of soup to contribute.

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Dec 23, 2018 Service of Lessons & Carols

PGIMF celebrated the Advent season with a Christmas service of lessons and carols. A number of visitors joined us at 9:00 a.m. for our potluck breakfast.

N/A Chan Yang Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld 4th Advent Yes
Dec 16, 2018 Holy, Humble Radiance

On the third Sunday of Advent, Laura Eriksson explored the paradox of God’s holiness and humility in Christ. Leviticus 21 tells the story of a people set apart by strict standards for holiness. In Alan Kreider’s Journey Towards Holiness (1987), the character of the Inexpressible One is described as holy in four ways: a Living Force, Separateness, God-Likeness, and Dynamism. The angels announcement to the shepherds was an outpouring of radiance as Jesus became God With Us (Emmanuel). May we in the church heed John the Baptist’s call to generosity, honesty, and gratitude in anticipation of Jesus’ arrival. [KH]

Laura Eriksson Veronica Dyck Michael Despotovic Rosemary Bell Diane Ehling Luke 2:8-21 3rd Advent/Shepherd's Sunday
Dec 09, 2018 Sing-along Messiah

We held our annual Sing-along Messiah featuring arias by four soloists – Thomas Bergen, Nadine He, Ann Marie Mossman, and Jane Pulkingham – and a violin solo by Angela Ruthven. The congregation and many guests enthusiastically comprised the chorus that filled our chapel.  Our grateful thanks to Ruth Enns who provided the orchestra from the piano, and to J. Evan Kreider who created and led the program. [AP]

NOTE: no audio recording is available.

"Messiah" Part 1, sing-along with readings Henry Neufeld Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf 2nd Advent
Dec 02, 2018 Watching and Waiting

On the first Sunday of Advent, Rosie Perera shared from her personal experience of struggling to wait and watch for God’s answer to prayer. The promises we find in the Bible often have multiple progressive fulfillments over many generations. Our modern culture of instant gratification is frenetic and fills us with anxiety. We would be better off following the example of Rosie’s dearly departed dog: attentively scanning the horizon for the Master’s leading, trusting even when things take longer than we expect. [KH]

Rosie Perera Laura Sportack Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; Luke 21:25-36 1st Advent Yes
Nov 25, 2018 Pilgrimage in a GPS era

In an era when we blindly navigate using the Global Positioning System (GPS), Janet Boldt gave us the analogy of how paper maps and a navigator can enrich a journey, as the Bible and companions in faith can help us through life. While technology can fail, God can provide our internal compass. The “little old lady from Pasadena” was a weekly pen pal who helped Janet in her path from inner-city ministry in Fresno to teaching at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford. Janet’s grandmother Emma left a diary of her time as a Deaconess in Ukraine, which she is now compiling into a book. If we get lost trying to understand theology, we can be held by God and a community of fellow travelers. May we learn to walk in the company of those who know The Way. [KH]

Janet Boldt Travis Martin Angela Ruthven Curtis Funk Diane Ehling 2 Samuel 23.1-7; Revelation 1.4b-8 Eternity Sunday Yes
Nov 18, 2018 “And Hannah had no children”: From barrenness to blessing, women as oracles of hope.

Dr. Veronica Dyck (Ph.D., Religious Social Ethics) spoke on the story of Hannah, who prayed so fervently for a son that the priest Eli mistook her for being intoxicated. Her bargain with God was that if she bore a male child, he would become a nazirite in the Lord’s service. After enduring taunting for barrenness from her co-wife Peninnah with husband Elkanah, Hannah gave birth to Samuel, who would go on to lead the Hebrew people through the transition to rule by kings. Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2 expressed praise to God for communal and personal blessings. Like other barren matriarch stories in the Bible, this counter-testimony shows us a way to praise God for faithfulness in the midst of pain. [KH]

Veronica Dyck Janice Kreider Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Ed Epp 1Sa 1:1-20; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Heb 10:11-14 (15-18), 19-25; Mk 13:1-8
Nov 11, 2018 The Gospel of Mark and the Identity of Jesus – Jesus the Authoritative One

On Peace Sunday, Thomas Bergen (Menno Simons Centre Residence Coordinator) continued his series on Mark by leading us to see how Jesus’ claim of authority over the Sabbath and Family threatened the religious establishment enough for them to want to kill him. Thomas challenged us to consider: what symbols have we allowed to usurp Jesus’s authority in our lives? We can truly be peacemakers when we submit to the reign of the Prince of Peace, who calls us to serve beyond our identity markers of nation, tribe, and our own desires. [KH]

Thomas Bergen Paul Thiessen Michael Despotovic Curtis Funk Henry Neufeld Mark 2:18-3:35; Mark 3:13-35
Nov 04, 2018 “and I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and in the age to come”

On the Sunday closest to All Saints’ Day, Dr. J. Evan Kreider (Professor Emeritus of Music, UBC) led us through the Bible passages which predict the resurrection of the dead. What happens to us between death and the final judgment is a mystery, but we know from Romans 8:38 that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Our hope can be built on Jesus’ promise that the believing thief on the cross would join him in Paradise (Luke 23:43). The Apostles’ Creed – and even some songs in our Mennonite hymnal – include belief in the communion of saints. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Rosie Perera J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Romans 8:38; Luke 23:43; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; etc.
Oct 28, 2018 Adam 1 and 2

Henry Neufeld compared two patterns for human flourishing based on the creation accounts in Genesis 1:24-31 and Genesis 2:18-25 (what Joseph B. Soloveitchik coined “Adam I and Adam II” in his book The Lonely Man of Faith). Adam I is about résumé values – the majestically utilitarian domination of one’s environment in pursuit of professional and material success. Adam II is about eulogy values – Jesus modeled these by placing value in humility, sacrifice, relationships, and stewardship in meeting the needs of the world. As David Brooks writes about his 2015 book The Road to Character, may we develop moral depth while caring for others, without becoming proud. [KH]

NOTE: following the service, a potluck lunch and Congregational meeting were held.

Henry Neufeld Laura Eriksson Andre Pekovich Curtis Funk Ed Epp Genesis 1-2 Yes Yes
Oct 21, 2018 Jesus, the Healing One

Thomas Bergen (Menno Simons Centre Residence Coordinator), continued his series on Mark with the tension between our desire for physical health and the holistic healing ministry of Jesus, which emphasized spiritual restoration. Jesus is known as a healer, in part because of the many stories of his healing work in the Gospel of Mark, and also because modern Christians pray in Christ’s name for God to heal them. May we learn to see God in the miracles of medicine and value our bodies, trusting in Christ’s ultimate victory over death. [KH]

Thomas Bergen Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Mark 1:29-34, Mark 2:1-17
Oct 14, 2018 Stories of Justice and Injustice

Janice Kreider shared three stories of justice and injustice. The first story was about an Afghan family helped through the immigration process in Vancouver by neighbours, the Sherbrooke Refugee Food Bank, and the Salvation Army. “Stolen Waters, Thirsty People” set the story of the Woman at the Well in the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation (included in the book, Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization). The third story was about a Mennonite family in the Holdeman Church deeply affected by a case of alcoholism and shunning. As James 1:27 suggests, may we care for orphans and widows in their distress, and keep ourselves unstained by the world. [KH]

Janice Kreider Kevin Hiebert Angela Ruthven Curtis Funk Diane Ehling Psalm 78:1-8, Deuteronomy 10:12-22, James 1:27, Isaiah 55:1-3a, I Corinthians 5:9-13, Galatians 6:1-5
Oct 07, 2018 A service of readings, prayers and hymns

Thanksgiving Sunday, October 7, 2018

N/A Veronica Dyck J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Thanksgiving Yes
Sep 30, 2018 Orange is the new colour for Reconciliation and Justice

Henry Krause, chair of the Indigenous Relations Group that is working on MCBC’s responses to indigenous relations, offered a message of reconciliation with our aboriginal brothers and sisters. His message was titled “Orange is the New Colour for Reconciliation and Justice.”

 

Henry Krause Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Acts 8:26-40
Sep 23, 2018 Stories to Share

Joy Rudder (chaplain in long-term care facilities and contract musician at Pinegrove) spoke on finding grace in unexpected places.  Being raised in a home which treasured writing and literature, she became an accomplished writer, as her talk demonstrated so wonderfully.  Patience, coupled with an open mind, a quiet listening ear, and a willingness to accept patients’ love as they can best give it at their stage of life—these have been combined to create a Christ-like servant model for anyone living with or loving someone with mental challenges at life’s end.  Joy began with the verse, ‘if you do it to one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.’  [JEK]

Joy Rudder Diane Ehling J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Luke 7:36-50; Matthew 25: 44-46; Matthew 20:16
Sep 16, 2018 Jesus, the Strong One

Thomas Bergen (Menno Simons Centre Residence Coordinator) continued his series on Mark with an exploration of the identity of Jesus as The Strong One. Jesus models a strength that is both incorruptible and other-focused. Unlike the self-preserving and self-promoting rulers of this world, God shows strength through the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit. Even strong men of the world such as John the Baptizer or Jim Jones necessarily fall short of Jesus’ example through misunderstanding or overreaching. May God give us the strength to follow Jesus like the Good Shepherd in Isaiah 40:11 by carrying one another’s burdens. [KH & AP]

Thomas Bergen Travis Martins Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Diane Ehling Mark 1:1-28
Sep 09, 2018 Seen by a loving God

Steve Klassen (director of the Mark Centre in Abbotsford) gave a dramatic presentation of the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, and explored the theme of being seen by a loving God. Jesus received the Holy Spirit like a dove in a visible demonstration of God’s favourable attention, and his ministry started by seeing the potential in each of the disciples and calling them to follow him. As the lyrics of the 1905 song suggest, “His eye is on the sparrow” and we know that God is watching over us (Matt. 6 & 10). We were introduced to the students living in the Menno Simons Centre for the new academic year, and a potluck barbeque followed the service.

Steve Klassen Cara Bergen Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Ed Epp Mark 1:35-39; Colossians 1:15-20 MSC Student welcome & BBQ Yes
Sep 02, 2018 Psalms for these Sad Distracted Times

Dr. J. Evan Kreider (Professor Emeritus of Music, UBC) invited us to rely on the Psalms (starting with 1, 12 and 15) for ideas on how to pray when we have no words to express our plea for help in these evil times. Countless generations have asked, “how long will the wicked continue to prosper?” Those who will dwell with the Lord resist following in the path of the scornful, the oppressor, and the liar. May we each be like a tree planted by the river, that brings forth the fruit of the Spirit in season. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Alice Klassen Curtis Funk Rosemary Bell Chris Skinner Psalms 12, 15, and 1 PGIMF's 32nd Anniversary Yes
Aug 26, 2018 The Mirror Reflects; Everything Grows

Michael Despotovic offered the testimony of his walk with God and the Church in an engaging message.  Inspiration was provided by the picture below.

Michael Despotovic Paul Thiessen J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Jeremiah 12:1-3; John 9:13-16; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 2 Peter 1:5-8
Aug 19, 2018 Measureless and Strong

Amy Anderson (Director of Communications and Public Engagement at Regent College), spoke on the theme of God’s all-encompassing love. Throughout Scripture, we see God acting in love toward creation – toward his people as a collective, and as individuals. Both Old and New Testaments show a God whose love is persistent (emphasized by the refrain in Psalm 136), faithful, and transformative. Many Christians do not truly believe that God loves them, but we are called to encourage each other to receive and live into this love. Deep confidence in God’s love is essential in developing hopeful faith, healthy service, and holy love for God, creation, and each other.

Amy Anderson Chan Yang Travis Martin Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Psalm 136
Aug 12, 2018 Reformation-Era Women: Reflecting on God

Dr. John Klassen (Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History at TWU) related the history of one of the influential women of the Reformation, Argula von Grumbach (1492-c.1554). As a Bavarian noblewoman, she grew up reading the Bible in German. When the young teacher Arsacius Seehoferwas arrested in 1523 for his Protestant views, Argula spoke up and challenged the professors at the University of Ingolstadt to a public debate! She used the power of the printing press to circulate many letters and pamphlets in support of Martin Luther and other Reformers. May we heed her advice to read the Bible ourselves and sharpen our conscience! [KH]

John Klassen Michael Despotovic Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Psalm 46 1-7, John 11: 17-27, Matthew 26: 36-46, Luke 22: 39-46
Aug 05, 2018 What Is Man?

John Hodges (Professor and consultant in animal genetics, agriculture and ethics in the UK and the EU) related biblical revelation of humankind to contemporary perspectives from man’s origins in prehistory and stage of societal development. Using selected texts from Genesis, Psalms, Job, Hebrews and 1 Corinthians, John emphasized the scientific exploration of our origins dovetails with our biblical texts when we examine them through the ethical lens God’s revelation offers us. [AP]

John Hodges J. Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Chris Skinner Psalm 8; Genesis 1:24-26+2:7; Hebrews 2:5-9; Job 32:6-22; 1 Corinthians 15:44-49; Colossians 1:15-20
Jul 29, 2018 God the Human Being

Jeremy Funk (son of PGIMF attenders Lois and Curtis Funk) shared from personal experience about the challenge of invisibility faced by persons with physical disabilities. Even praying for healing for someone without asking first can be a de-humanizing action. The story of the formerly paralyzed man in Mark 2 demonstrated that in Christ, God affirms the humanity of each of us. May we likewise welcome others into the peace described by Jesus, no matter what our bodily differences may be. [KH]

Jeremy Funk Curtis Funk J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Mark 2:1-12
Jul 22, 2018 Creative Non-Violence

Dr. Julianne Funk (Ph.D., peace scholar and lecturer at the University of Zurich) shared how Mennonite contributions to international peacemaking have a Biblical basis in the Sermon on the Mount. She gave us examples from her personal experience of the six key attributes of Mennonite peace-making practice, and referenced John Paul Lederach’s writings in support of long-term perspectives and the empowerment of local leaders. Breaking the cycle of violence requires an embrace of paradox: upholding truth and mercy so that justice and peace may kiss (Psalm 85:10 in translation). [KH]

Creative non-violence slideshow (22-JULY-2018, Dr. Julianne Funk)

Watch the streaming video of the sermon with slideshow (35 minutes, 720p MOV file) in your web browser.

 

Julianne Funk Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Rosemary Bell Chris Skinner Matthew 5:38-48
Jul 15, 2018 Quest for the Hysterical Jesus

Rosie Perera led us on a laugh track through the evidence in the Bible that laughter is God’s gift to us. Our culture has a reputation for dour prudishness, but Mennonite comedians are gaining in popularity! In the OT, we read of Abraham & Sarah’s hilarity at the prospect of becoming natural parents at the ages of 100 & 90 respectively. In the NT, wordplay abounds, including Jesus using satire, hyperbole, and playfully preposterous analogies in his parables like the speck and the log in the eye. We can have the last laugh at Satan by accepting Christ’s offer of salvation. [KH]

Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Paul Thiessen Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Genesis 17:15-19; Genesis 18:1-15; Genesis 21:1-8
Jul 08, 2018 Feeding Sheep

Andrea Perrett (VST graduate) spoke about how she arrived at a pastoral vocation after studying nutrition and then theology. By God’s grace, she is able to integrate both as a Board member of the Presbyterian World Service & Development because of its partnership with other Christian relief & development organizations like the Mennonite Central Committee in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Jesus’ call in John 21:15-25 for Peter to “feed my sheep” can motivate us to participate in a Christian response to hunger. [KH]

Andrea Perrett Janice Kreider Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Ed Epp John 21: 15-25
Jul 01, 2018 Faithful and Unruly

Andria Irwin (VST graduate student) spoke on the miracles of the synagogue leader’s young daughter restored to life, and the hemorrhaging woman healed, as recorded in Mark 5:21-43. In each case, their expression of disorderly faith was the catalyst for a miraculous transformation. Jairus risked his standing in the religious establishment, and the woman risked further censure for touching Jesus’ cloak while ritually unclean. We will be courageous and fully embody our faith in our actions? [KH]

Andria Irwin Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Curtis Funk Ed Epp 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
Jun 24, 2018 Worship in the Park (2018)

The member churches of the West Point Grey Ministerial Association collaborated on a worship service in Trimble Park during the Point Grey Fiesta. There was no bulletin or audio recording.

N/A N/A N/A Worship in the Park
Jun 17, 2018 The Meaning of Privilege

Susan Hackett returned with a message of truth, healing, and reconciliation. For many generations, the Christian church supported colonial governments using the Doctrine of Discovery to dispossess aboriginal communities from their lands. White-skinned Mennonite refugees to the Americas blended in with the dominant settlers and benefited from the same unearned privileges. In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 2014, the Mennonite Central Committee affirmed the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a guide for right relations. In our daily lives, we can be careful that our attempts to be sympathetic don’t end up being patronizing. When we inevitably offend and are offended, will we follow Christ’s model and reconcile through patient and sacrificial giving and receiving? [KH]

Sue Hackett Andre Pekovich Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Matthew 5:23-24, Ephesians 2:14-18
Jun 10, 2018 Finding Joy

Samuel Andri (VST 2nd-year grad student, originally from Indonesia, now serving in the Presbyterian Church of Canada in Richmond) offered his thoughts on the twin parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin in Luke 15:1-10. Some interpretations risk us justifying religious colonization or caring only for the materially less fortunate. But if we put ourselves into the mindset of both the shepherd and the woman, we can find our joy in living for others. May we be brave enough to lose ourselves for others, so that we may be found by God. [KH]

Samuel Andri Laura Sportack Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Ed Epp Luke 15:1-10
Jun 03, 2018 Who Am I?

Dr. John Friesen (Professor Emeritus of Counselling Psychology, UBC), one of the founders of the church and the Menno Simons Centre, spoke on the importance of identity. Despite feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, Moses and David served as the Lord’s chosen instruments. The encouraging words of people such as mentors and those we’ve served over the years can help us face our “giants” (adversaries and difficult circumstances). Recognition of the identity of Jesus as the Messiah grew out of a conversation with the Apostle Peter. May the source of our identity as a Christian Self be found in our relationship with the living God. [KH]

John Friesen Kevin Hiebert Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Psalm 8:3-9; Matthew 16:13-20; Exodus 3:11-15; 1 Samuel 17:32-37
May 27, 2018 Retreat at Camp Luther: Exercising Soul, Mind and Body

We gathered from May 25th to 27th at Camp Luther on Hatzic Lake (near Mission, BC) for a retreat for the physical, the mental and the spiritual in Exercising Soul, Mind and Body. The weekend included Friday evening campfire songs, a Saturday morning Tai Chi lesson, a Saturday evening coffeehouse concert programme plus jam session, a worship service on Sunday morning, and plenty of good interaction with each other. Stimulation and relaxation were enjoyed in equal measure!


Michael Despotovic N/A
May 20, 2018 MCC in the Middle East and Europe

Amela Puljek-Shank (MCC Area Director for the Middle East and Europe) shared her personal story of living through the 1992 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Amela described her process of healing from trauma, by re-humanizing the enemy to make forgiveness possible. Recent images from Syria of devastation and multiple internal displacements showed how urgent the needs are for relief and conflict transformation skills. Even the abandoned families of opposing fighters need help. Hope comes in the form of MCC’s dedicated local partners who risk their lives to make a difference. Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). [KH]

Amela Puljek-Shank Michael Despotovic Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; and Matthew 5:9 referenced in sermon Pentecost Yes
May 13, 2018 A Care in the World?

Charis Weathers (Regent alumnus and now pastor of Echoes church in Bellingham), spoke from the long prayer in John 17 against the backdrop of Rublev’s famous icon The Holy Trinity. In an exploration of the perichoresis (the trinitarian nature) of God, Charis identified the trio in a dance with each other, flowing in and out of relationship with each other (Gregory of Nyssa) to permeate each others’ existence. We as worshippers are invited to enter the same dance of worship and love of the Trinity, and widen it outward to others in a process of becoming sanctified by being sent into the world, not out of it. This is the physical manifestation of the self-giving love Jesus modeled for us in his prayer to the disciples in John 17. [AP]

Rublev’s famous icon showing the three Angels being hosted by Abraham at Mamre. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Charis Weathers Rosie Perera Angela Ruthven Curtis Funk Diane Ehling John 17:6-19
May 06, 2018 Introduction to Mark: Who do you say that I am?

Thomas Bergen (Menno Simons Centre Residence Coordinator) continued his series on the Book of Mark, answering preliminary questions about its audience, authorship, and genre. The anticipated readers seem to be Romans, circa A.D. 65, when Nero began persecuting Christians. Church tradition attributes this gospel to John Mark of Jerusalem, believed to be the interpreter/scribe of the Apostle Peter’s memoir. Like a mystery novel, the central question of Jesus’ identity as the Messiah drives the dramatic tension of what reads like an ancient historical biography. The most important question that we can answer is Jesus’ question to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” [KH]

NOTE: at the 17:20 point in the sermon, the 5-minute video The Gospel According to Mark was shown.

 

Thomas Bergen Paul Thiessen Andre Pekovich Curtis Funk Edward Epp 2 Samuel 7:5-16; Mark 12:35-37; Mark 15:33-39; Psalm 98
Apr 29, 2018 Sing-Along Messiah

The congregation and several soloists sang selections from Handel’s The Messiah interspersed with readings from the scriptures from Isaiah on which The Messiah is based.

A congregational Annual General Meeting followed a pizza lunch for our last potluck lunch of the season,  served after the service.

Sing-along Messiah, Parts 2-3 J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Yes Yes
Apr 22, 2018 Venturing Out in Doubt

Alisha Fung (a VST theology student) spoke on Hebrews 11:8-16.  Abraham is praised by the writer for being willing to leave his native country and–by faith–travel to live in another that was vastly different.  Surely such a move would have been preceded and accompanied by endless doubts, but the storyteller reveals neither those doubts nor how Abraham dealt with them.  Journeys of faith, and even faith itself, never come unaccompanied by doubts. Even Jesus expressed doubts from the cross when crying out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Certainty (not doubt) is the opposite of faith.  [JEK]

Alisha Fung Chan Yang Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Henry Neufeld Hebrews 11:8-16
Apr 15, 2018 Jesus as the Climax of the Covenants

Using the visual aid of an hourglass diagram, Thomas Bergen (MSC Residence Coordinator), outlined how the progression from Genesis to Revelation (Past to Future) in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John each connect an Old Testament covenant to the fulfillment of those prophecies in Christ. The stories of Noah, Abraham, and Moses are mirrored by the titles of Jesus as the True Israel, True Representative of Humanity, and Redeemer of All. At the centre, the book of Mark links the Davidic covenant to Jesus as the True King. The Good News is that we are all invited to enter God’s story, which gives us identity, mission, and purpose. [KH]

Hourglass whiteboard diagram by Thomas Bergen on Sunday April 15, 2018 at PGIMF

Thomas Bergen Travis Martins Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Peter Neudorf Mark 15:25-32; Matthew 1:1; Luke 2:8-11; John 1:1-3
Apr 08, 2018 The Voice from the Shore

Henry Neufeld brought us into the story in John 21:1-14, when the “fishers of people” returned to their fishing business after Jesus’ resurrection. At first, they didn’t recognize Christ calling out to them from the shore, inviting them to try a new idea by throwing their net on the other side of the boat. Fishing Tips by John Pentland of Hillhurst United tells the story of how curiosity transformed a community of faith. What risks are our church willing to take in order to reinvent ourselves in a new location? [KH]

Henry Neufeld Rosie Perera Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Chris Skinner John 21:1-14; Matthew 4:18-22; Ecclesiastes 11:1-6
Apr 01, 2018 Easter Sunday 2018

Our Easter breakfast was followed by a service of celebratory songs and scriptures to sing Alleluia! to the risen Lord, written and presented by J. Evan Kreider.

J. Evan Kreider (organizer) J. Evan Kreider Ed Epp
Mar 25, 2018 Readings, prayers and songs from Palms to Passion

Sunday March 25, 2018.  Palm/Passion Sunday – the sixth Sunday of Lent – featured a worship service designed by Veronica Dyck.

This Sunday was also the Feast of the Annunciation.

Veronica Dyck Travis Martin Andre Pekovich Henry Neufeld Palm/Passion Sunday Yes
Mar 18, 2018 The Least of These

On the 5th Sunday of Lent, Dr. Paul Thiessen (MD, FRCPC) spoke about the “least of these” whom Jesus referred to in Matthew 25:40. As a pediatrician, Paul shared his experiences of being blessed while treating children with special needs. Jean Vanier started the L’Arche movement in Trosly-Breuil, France, inspiring communities around the world in which people with disabilities share their unique gifts with their assistants (care-givers). As Henri Nouwen wrote, “Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows, but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope.” [KH]

Paul Thiessen Laura Sportack J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ed Epp Leviticus 21:16-24, Matthew 5:1-11; Matthew 25:31-40, Psalm 27:7-14 Lent V
Mar 11, 2018 And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

On the fourth Sunday of Lent, Dr. J. Evan Kreider reminded us that in James 1:13 we are told, “No one, when tempted. should say, ‘I am being tempted by God.'” Yet the experiences of Adam & Eve, Abraham and even Jesus in the wilderness sound like times of hard testing. We heard a few other interpretations of the Lord’s Prayer in which we can call on God to spare us from trials too sharp to endure and save us from the powers that possess our spirits and structures. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Travis Martin Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Diane Ehling James 1:2-16; Genesis 2:15-17; Genesis 3:1-7; Genesis 22:1-14 Lent IV
Mar 04, 2018 Endless War, Forgotten People

On the third Sunday of Lent, Sue Kim spoke on the topic of Korean people living in Japan.

NOTE: the recording of the service is only available to borrow on CD.

 

Sue Kim Paul Froese Michael Despotovic Curtis Funk Peter Neudorf The Endless War Lent III
Feb 25, 2018 Learning the Hard Way with the Apostle Peter

For the second Sunday of Lent, Daniel Whitehead (Executive Director of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries) wrestled with the lectionary texts in Mark 8 and 9. The Apostle Peter learned the hard way, twice, that Christ expects us to live in hope, in the tension between pain and glory. Neither worldly wisdom nor demanding answers to our prayers are useful in following Jesus. Happiness is not what Christians are called to pursue, but the potluck lunch was enjoyed by all. [KH]

 

 

Dan Whitehead Laura Ericsson Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Mark 8:27-34 and Mark 9:2-9 (from lectionary) Lent II Yes
Feb 18, 2018 Conversations about Faith

On the first Sunday of Lent, Herb Reesor was interviewed by Evan Kreider and Henry Neufeld. Before he moves to Alberta, we heard about Herb’s journey of faith and life in Vancouver. From his neighbourhood block watch, to bike couriers & businesspeople downtown, to the early years of the PGIMF congregation, he has had many opportunities to share God’s love. Verna’s journey through sickness, pain and suffering to be with Jesus in 1999 was a big part of his faith-building experience. Communion was served, and many familiar songs were sung. [KH]

Herb Reesor Diane Ehling Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Gen. 9:8-17; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15; Matt. 11:28-29 Lent I Yes
Feb 11, 2018 The Immeasurable Compassion and Power of God

John Klassen (TWU Professor Emeritus of History) used the stories of Julian of Norwich (c. 1342–1416) and Petr Chelcicky (c. 1390–1460) to explore the wideness of God’s mercy. Their spirituality set examples which challenged the patriarchal and violent religious fervor of late Medieval times. Julian had a vision of something no bigger than a hazelnut which represented all that God has made, loved and continues to preserve – as theological cosmologists may consider the seed for the Big Bang. Petr’s counterpoint to the revolutionary Hussites was that if you destroy evildoers, the Devil simply leaves their hearts and enters yours! As Christians, we can unite to share our group memory of how God’s Salvation makes all things well. [KH]

John Klassen Alice Klassen Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Mark 14: 22-25, Luke 22: 14-20, John 4: 31-34 John 6: 25-34, Luke 1: 68-79. Romans 12: 1-8
Feb 04, 2018 Lamentations

Johann Funk told the Luke story of the good Samaritan from three perspectives to detail the problems of dealing with moral questions solely from the legal, ethical or theological approaches. Moral values that transcend time and place give the story flesh and detail the God-given quality of mercy. Examining the behaviour of the Levite and other travellers, beside the Samaritan from legal, ethical and theological perspectives give us a sense of the broad shape of mercy, and draw us closer to God. [AP]

Johann Funk Veronica Dyck Travis Martin Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Lamentations 3:16-24, Luke 10:25-37
Jan 28, 2018 Our Global Fellowship

Janice Kreider spoke about the global Anabaptist communion. We saw and heard a variety of resources including:

A congregational meeting followed the potluck lunch, after the service.

NOTE: The audio recording is not posted online but is available to borrow on CD.

Janice Kreider Kevin Hiebert Michael Despotovic Curtis Funk Henry Neufeld World Fellowship Sunday Yes Yes
Jan 21, 2018 Doubt and Faith – Pt. 2

Henry Klippenstein warned us of the dangers of treating doubt as a virtue, rather than a means to greater faith. Incessant doubt may be toxic or even pathological. If we stop at Sola scriptura (by the Bible alone), our expectations for accuracy may risk disillusionment with its human compilation. Is there enough humility in our certainties? The other four Solas (Faith, Grace, Christ, and Glory to God alone) are also ways that God speaks to us today. Henry encouraged us to seek more experiential knowledge of the Divine through our relationships with Christ and each other (“at one-ment” flows from atonement). The Wuest Expanded Translation of John 20:27 helped us to hear Jesus’ words to Thomas, calling us to be in a progressive state of believing. [KH]

Henry Klippenstein Janice Kreider Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Chris Skinner John 14:1-9a+11-18; John 20:19-27
Jan 14, 2018 Doubt and Faith – Pt. 1

Henry Klippenstein used Caravaggio’s painting ‘The Incredulity of Saint Thomas’ as a backdrop to speak on the account in John 20:24-29. Thomas has been historically redeemed as ultimately being a believer rather than a doubter, once his skepticism was overcome. Mother Teresa is another example showing that doubt can be a vital step towards a deeper faith. Henry described the “sin of certainty” (rather than doubt) as the opposite of faith. He encouraged us to more freely say Amen as a declaration of our trust, whenever we experience God’s work in our lives. [KH]

 

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, oil on canvas, circa 1601-1602 by Caravaggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Klippenstein Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Peter Neudorf John 20:24-29
Jan 07, 2018 Epiphany

J. Evan Kreider spoke in absentia through Janice Kreider on the Epiphany. Herod the Great had been ruling Galilee with fire and fury since 40 B.C. and was insecure in his place as king of the Jews. Three wise men (Magi/Kings) from the East brought Jesus’ family highly symbolic gifts: gold (of kingship), frankincense (of deity), and myrrh (an embalming oil, of death). Jealousy can lead to insane actions, with dire consequences for other people. Dreams can guide people (even foreigners from other faiths) for God’s purposes. Are we seeking God’s guidance: in books, in the sky, and from our brothers & sisters in Christ? [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Ed Epp Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12 Epiphany
Dec 31, 2017 Sunday December 31, 2017

There will be no service on Sunday December 31, 2017.

N/A - no service N/A
Dec 24, 2017 Service of Readings and Songs for Christmas

On Sunday, December 24, 2017, we enjoyed a Christmas Potluck Breakfast beginning at 9:00 am, followed by a Christmas service of Readings and Carols compiled by Curtis Funk and led by Veronica Dyck.

Carols, Readings and Prayers Veronica Dyck J Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Diane Ehling Yes
Dec 17, 2017 Called to Relationship

Al McKay (PHS chaplain) described the “Blue Christmas” services that he leads at Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels in which people can turn over to the Creator the tensions and burdens they carry in this season as a result of losses and feelings of isolation. Our lives can be (and even smell) messy, like the first Christmas must have been – not the happiest time of year! He read two poems by the late Bud Osborn, a Downtown Eastside poet, opening our eyes to seeing God in the faces of streetwalkers and binners. Institutions tend to value the lives of the successful, while in the upside-down Kingdom, every life is important. Are we open to seeing Jesus in unfamiliar yet authentic places? [KH]

NOTE: you can read the transcript of Krista Tippett’s interview with Pádraig Ó Tuama (whom Al quoted from) in her On Being podcast interview from March 2, 2017.

Al McKay Paul Thiessen Ann Marie Mossman Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Isaiah 61:1-11; Psalm 126; John 1:6-8,19-28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; Luke 7:36-50 3rd Advent
Dec 10, 2017 Waiting Expectantly

Annika Krause (AMBS grad and Sherbrooke member) returned to celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Advent with us. The wilderness is both a place of hardship and a quiet place to encounter God. The good news in Mark 1 links the prophecy of Isaiah 40 to John the Baptizer preparing the way of the LORD by calling for repentance out of the desert. Will we as people of the Kingdom strive to be at peace and make righteousness at home (come naturally)? May our Advent preparations be more than simply remembering the birth of Christ. [KH]

Annika Krause Rosie Perera Angela Ruthven Andre Pekovich Ed Epp Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8 2nd Advent
Dec 03, 2017 Called by Name, Named by Call

On the 1st Sunday of Advent, Laura Eriksson reminded us that what we are called is a big part of our identity. A birth announcement is an opportunity for parents to highlight part of their family history or express an aspiration for the child’s character. The name of Jesus (Yeshua) has been held in high honour because it means “Yahweh saves!” As we heard in The Naming of Jesus, a sonnet by Malcolm Guite, “We call your name that we might hear a call.” [KH]

Laura Eriksson Michael Despotovic Travis Martin Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Matt 1:18-25; Luke 1:5-17; Luke 1:26-37; Luke 1:57-66; Philipians 2:1-11, 12b-16a 1st Advent Yes
Nov 26, 2017 What Should Church Be?

Heather Pauls Murray spoke on the expectations that we have for church people to be nice all the time. Our behaviour is being compared to that of Jesus, not just to everyone else! Once we go deeper into relationship by traveling through chaotic times together, will we overcome our anxieties and be vulnerable to each other, while maintaining healthy boundaries? As members of a church community, we should be comfortable living with differences, by the Spirit, rather than by divisive human nature. Are we willing to be truly known by – and accountable to – our sisters and brothers in Christ?  [KH]

Heather Murray Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Ephesians 4:13-15; Romans 8:9, 8:12-13; Titus 3:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:16-17 Eternity Sunday Yes
Nov 19, 2017 And With Him Two Others

Laura Sportack led us to look more closely at the Gospel accounts of the two rebels who were crucified on either side of Jesus. She referred to James L. Griffith’s book, Religion That Heals, Religion That Harms, which suggests that we evaluate the quality of our relatedness to those outside our “in” groups. In Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf says that we are enriched by reflections of others in our personality. Evil deeds can’t be tolerated, but Jesus discriminated in favour of the criminal at his side who spoke the truth. Laura encouraged us to follow Jesus’ example and listen to, witness to, and bless the Other, rather than perpetuate a “Us vs. Them” mentality. [KH]

Laura Sportack Alice Klassen Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld John 19:18, 31b-33; Mark 15:25-32; Luke 23:32-43;
Nov 12, 2017 Living Out Of Our Stories

Esther Hizsa shared how violence can come out of our broken stories, while peace can come out of our blessed stories. She invited us to hear in Psalm 23 how God actively restores our soul to help us live out of a place of peace. Esther gave us 3 pieces of homework for the week beginning with Peace Sunday: 1) be still and remember when God was a divine shepherd for you; 2) be still and behold a “green pasture” story, and; 3) return – with Jesus – to the meal set for you in the presence of your enemies. God’s love, goodness, and mercy are aggressively pursuing us so that the fruits of the Spirit can come out of our stories. [KH]

Esther Hizsa Andre Pekovich Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Psalm 23
Nov 05, 2017 Moral Outrage

Moral outrage is a righteous indignation on behalf of others, distinguishing it from anger at being aggrieved personally. Vigilantes and derogatory pundits are negative examples, since vengeance belongs to the Lord. Societal progress can be promoted by recognizing injustice, but only if we are spurred to action towards solving the problem. Armchair activism is not only insufficient but can be emotionally self-destructive. Will we do as Jesus demonstrated: lament, fast, pray, and channel our outrage into a productive response? [KH]

Rosie Perera Henry Neufeld Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Ed Epp John 2:13-17; Matthew 3:1-12; Matthew 26:51-554; Luke 18:9-14; 2Samuel 12:1-13; Romans 12:17-21; Ephesians 4:26-27
Oct 29, 2017 Reflections on Ephesians

Thomas Bergen introduced us to the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the church at Ephesus by showing a 9-minute video from The Bible Project on Ephesians and then he recited the entire book from memory! Thomas asked us to focus on the identity of the church, as the people called out from the world – the mystical body of Christ (ekklésia, in Greek). [KH]

Thomas Bergen Laura Eriksson Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Ephesians 1:1 - 6:24 Yes Yes
Oct 22, 2017 Time Is God’s Money

Kevin Hiebert spoke on the intriguing theme, “Time is God’s Money”, suggesting that aspects of scripture’s counsel on how to use money wisely might also be applied to our use of time, since, as someone once said in the early 1700s, ‘time is money’.  Jesus advised his critics, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  Can this also be applied to our use of time?  Kevin noted that although we usually look after our financial assets carefully, we can be rather more casual about using our time wisely.  Time is a non-renewable source which often seems more precious after it is gone.  In Matthew 6:25-, Jesus taught us not to worry about the little things in life (what to wear, what to eat!) but to seek God’s Kingdom above all else.  Today’s communications technologies, lifestyles, and pressures at work have convinced us to invest less time in life’s most important activities–helping others and nurturing personal relationships.  What would happen if we thought of “TIME” as standing for ‘Today Is My Everything’?  [JEK]

Kevin Hiebert Paul Froese Travis Martin Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Matthew 22:15-22; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Psalm 99; Isaiah 45:1-7 Yes
Oct 15, 2017 Talk back Tuesdays: Yahweh, Moses and the golden calf

Dr. Veronica Dyck spoke on the account of the Golden Calf in Ex 32. Despite the deep anger of Yahweh at the Israelites for so quickly seeking an object to worship when Moses stayed too long on Mt. Sinai, Moses stood as prophet and intercessor for the people, pleading for God to remember his promises to the patriarchs. The passage shows how God’s fundamental nature is to seek relationship with humankind, and that the paradigm of dialogue is at the core here, and throughout Scripture. God does not want to be left alone; God invites us to talk back! [VD]

Veronica Dyck Janice Kreider Michael Despotovich J. Evan Kreider Peter Neudorf Exodus 32:1-14; Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23; Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14
Oct 08, 2017 Ecumenical Peacemaking

Rev. Marianna Harris (United Church of Canada) was joined by a former Ecumenical Accompanier from the World Council of Churches. They gave a presentation that made us thankful for the work of peacemaking and preservation of life in Palestine/Israel. We saw photos and heard stories about the extraordinary resilience of the Palestinian people living under occupation in the beautiful land where Jesus lived and taught. May we be inspired to walk together, united for peace and justice, with our Palestinian brothers and sisters through the shadow of the valley of death (Psalm 23). [KH]

Marianna Harris J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Diane Ehling Psalm 23; Psalm 65 Yes
Oct 01, 2017 You Won’t Like Me When I’m Hangry

Andrea Perrett (VST graduate and associate pastor of West Point Grey Presbyterian) spoke on the story of Moses taking the Israelites’ complaints to God in Exodus 17:1-7. The combination of hunger and the angry reaction it can evoke is known in slang as hangry. The thirsty people bitterly questioned Moses’ leadership and the value of their freedom from Egypt. Like the Snickers candy slogan, “you’re not YOU when you’re hungry”, are we uncharacteristically ungrateful when desperate, and does it take our cries for help to get God’s attention? [KH]

Andrea Perrett Chan Yang Anglea Ruthven Ruth Enns Ed Epp Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 15:18-20
Sep 24, 2017 By Our Love Shall They Know Us

Dr. J. Evan Kreider (Professor Emeritus of Music, UBC) spoke on the visible manifestation of the Christian life as seen in the life and death of Perpetua, Felicitas, and their companions at Carthage in Africa, circa 203 AD. Evan introduced us to an account of their martyrdom by Dr. Alan Kreider (Evan’s cousin, the late Professor Emeritus of Church History at AMBS) in his book The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire (2016). These brave young women of different social strata made a deep impression on the bloodthirsty crowd with their demonstration of peace and love right to the end. Evan challenged us with the question: what might others see in our lives that could jar their expectations? [KH]

NOTE: Henry Klippenstein, originally scheduled to speak on Doubt and Faith from John 20: 19-29, will be rescheduled to the earliest available opportunity.  You may also wish to view A Shadow of a Doubt featuring Joseph Solomon, easily Googled on YouTube.

J. Evan Kreider Laura Eriksson Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld 1John 4:7-21
Sep 17, 2017 Love Leads the Way

Garry Janzen (Mennonite Church BC Executive Minister) spoke on “Love Leads the Way” based on 1 John 4:7-21. A key theme for this year at the MCBC has been to build healthy connections within and among congregations. We can love others because God first loved us. Even in the contentious matters between neighbours such as we see in strata councils, we are called to love our brothers and sisters. With Jesus as the centre of our faith and reconciliation as the centre of our work, we can walk together and empower others by building bridges rather than walls. How then can we best love others? [KH]

Garry Janzen Diane Ehling Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Chris Skinner 1 John 4:7-21
Sep 10, 2017 Community

Henry Neufeld and Janice Kreider led a discussion on what it means to live in community with PGIMF attenders the Yangs and the Lees, who have spent some time creating and living in intentional communities.  This service was part of a welcome back to the Menno Simons Centre for residents living in community at the Menno Simons Centre, and featured a potluck barbeque after the service to which everyone — attenders, guests, visitors, students, and friends — were all invited.

NOTE: the audio recording is for private listening only at the request of the speakers.

Yang & Lee Families Janice Kreider Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Yes
Sep 03, 2017 Medieval Piety: Possessions, Scriptures and Community

John Klassen gave a brief summary of three orders of the faithful who lived in an antithesis to the established church in the 13thC in Europe – the Waldensians, the Franciscans and the Beguines. With brief biographies of their founders, John placed their service to the Lord in the context of their times – which were violent and corrupt, yet inspiring to so many. Regrettably due to a technical fault, the service was not recorded.

NOTE: no audio recording is available.

 

John Klassen Paul Thiessen Travis Martin Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Psalm 65: 9 - 13, Mark 10: 17 – 23, Matthew 10: 5-15, John 11:17-27 Yes
Aug 27, 2017 Mennonite Centre, Molotschna, Ukraine

Dr. Art Friesen described the work of the Mennonite Centre in the old Molotschna Colony (now Molochansk) near Zaporozhye, Ukraine. We saw photos and heard about programs that provide lunches for seniors, medication, eye glasses, and more. The Centre supports disabled children as they integrate into public school, and donations have assisted a regional blood donor clinic, the childrens’ hospital, and a rehabilitation hospital. Collaboration between religious groups resulted in the renovation of the Schoensee Church and other success stories. Consider becoming one of the Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine. [KH]

Art Friesen Curtis Funk Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Ed Epp
Aug 20, 2017 Forgiving Others

Dr. J. Evan Kreider (Professor Emeritus of Music, UBC) spoke on the story of Joseph in Genesis 43-45 in which he tested his half-brothers – who had sold him into slavery – to ensure that they had changed their ways. Jesus’ Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matt. 18:21-35 seems harsh compared to his prior admonition to forgive many times more than seven. From the Victim-Offender program in Langley and the hearings of Truth & Reconciliation Commission, we have seen how hard it is to ask for forgiveness and/or feel fully forgiven. As Bishop Thomas Wilson (1663-1755) prayed, may God forgive all our sins, including the ones hidden even from ourselves. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Travis Martin Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Chris Skinner Psalm 45: 1-15, Psalm 113, Matthew 18:21-35, Genesis 43:1 - 45:15
Aug 13, 2017 Jesus Saw Their Faith

Kasey Kimball (Regent College M.A. Doctrinal Theology student), took us deep into the stories of Jesus cleansing a leper, healing a paralytic and calling a tax-collector from Mark 1:40-2:17. Our faith is typically developed communally, by following the example of others. We have much to learn by carrying each other on our journey while staying oriented towards Jesus. Even if our intractable problems are healed, will we be obedient to Christ and give God the glory rather than feed our ego? When we hit “the wall” of doubt, can we have faith even with uncertain earthly outcomes, and persevere in the “long game” for God’s ultimate commendation and reward? [KH]

Kasey Kimball Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Mark 1:40 - 2:17
Aug 06, 2017 Psalm 17

Dr. J. Evan Kreider (Professor Emeritus of Music, UBC) spoke on Psalm 17, a Davidic plea to Yahweh to pay attention and act in justice (1-2; 6-9; 13-15) based on a declaration of faithfulness (3-5) and a lament over the enemies that lurk in ambush like a lion (10-12). The unnamed petitioner poetically wrestles with God, like Jacob’s all-night match in Genesis (32:22-31). While we may try to live in peace, chronic pains or debilitating illnesses may be our enemies rather than people. Evan challenged us to try praying for others using the pattern of this psalm before using it for ourselves. [KH]

 

 

J Evan Kreider Janice Kreider Angela Ruthven Andre Pekovich Peter Neudorf Psalm 17; Genesis 32:22-31; Romans 8:31-39; Matthew 14:13-21
Jul 30, 2017 Arts-based Strategies for Peacebuilding

Dr. Laurel Borisenko returned to summarize one aspect of the summer course she taught last week at Regent College based on concepts in John Paul Lederach’s book, The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace. Transcending violence requires imaginative storytelling by communities with four characteristics: organic interdependence (web of relationships), dynamic curiosity (understand the causes of conflict), artistic creativity, and risk-taking (by including your enemies). She gave examples of artists working in defiance of war: the Leningrad première of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, the Sarajevo Film Festival, and the Sevdah Cafe movement in Mostar, Bosnia. Her Ph.D. dissertation is available from the University of Amsterdam: Arts-based peacebuilding: Functions of Theatre in Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe (2016). [KH]

Laurel Borisenko Andre Pekovich Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Proverbs 24:10-14; Joshua 10:28-40; Matt. 5:3-12; 1 Peter 3:8-12a
Jul 23, 2017 Working With Our Fleshy Selves

Jillian Jackson (graduate of Regent College) spoke from Romans 7:14 – 8:2 on the dichotomy between the sinful desires of our flesh and the new creature that we are in Christ. She described the very personal struggles that lead some people to hide their problems and sometimes even tragically die in shame. Like Paul, we struggle in the duality of our wretched nature as slaves to sin even though we live under a new law – the Spirit’s unending grace, our new life thanks to Jesus. We sang “Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free” (#539). [KH]

Jillian Jackson Veronica Dyck J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Romans 7:14-8:2
Jul 16, 2017 Eating with God

On July 16, 2017, Dr Jeffery Greenman (President of Regent College) showed how Jesus had used the story in Exodus 24 when instituting the “Lord’s Supper”. The preceding chapters in Genesis (19-13) are set at Mt Sinai, where the Jews were asked to be a kingdom of priests, in communion with God. Chapters 21-23 present the decalogue which told how to worship God and live an ethical life. Chapter 24 then set forth the covenant, God’s gift of himself and our response of obedience–all sealed with lots of blood. An altar was built, 12 pillars were symbolically raised nearby, young men offered burnt offerings (removal of sin) and peace offerings of gratitude. Blood symbolized God’s acceptance of the offerings. This one time, half of the blood was poured on the altar and half sprinkled on the people (‘atoning sacrificial blood) while they again promised to obey. The people then ate together. When Jesus says in the context of his final meal (Matthew 26), “Take, eat, this is my body . . . this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” everyone would have recalled the story in Exodus 24, as will we. [JEK]
Regrettably the message was not recorded

Jeff Greenman Curtis Funk Angela Ruthven Andre Pekovich Chris Skinner Exodus 24: 1-18; Psalm 111:1-10; Matthew 26:26-29 Yes
Jul 09, 2017 The Emergence of Twelfth Century Spirituality

John Klassen, Ph.D. (Professor Emeritus of History at TWU), detailed the lives of some of the spiritual figures of the 12th Century. Clotilde, the second wife of the Frankish king Clovis I, helped to convert her husband to Catholicism (rather than the theology of Arianism adopted by most other Germanic tribes). Monastic traditions in the early Medieval Period gave us a legacy of beautiful liturgies, such as the epic poetry of the Saxon Saviour. [KH]

John Klassen Michael Despotovic Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan Revelation 5:1-14
Jul 02, 2017 God is Stranger

Krish Kandiah, Executive Director for Churches in Mission at the Evangelical Alliance and their Home for Good campaign, joined us from the UK while teaching at Regent College this summer. He spoke on the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, when the people of all nations are separated before the throne in heaven based on their treatment of the needy. The Son of Man says that he is the stranger that we have the opportunity to help, so how will we respond? While we are saved by faith alone, our acts of mercy demonstrate that our lives have been transformed. [KH]

Krish Kandiah Rosie Perera Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Matthew 25:31-46
Jun 25, 2017 The God Who is Coming

Poul Guttesen, Ph.D., a Regent alumnus and a lecturer at the University of the Faroe Islands, is currently on sabbatical in Vancouver. He is the author of Leaning Into the Future: The Kingdom of God in the Theology of Jürgen Moltmann and the Book of Revelation. Poul looked at one of the titles for God in Revelation as the “Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (4:8). In a twist on the usual conjugation, the apocalyptic author doesn’t end with “and is to be” but looks forward to Christ’s return to bring the Kingdom to earth. [KH]

Poul Guttesen Paul Thiessen Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld isaiah 6:1-3; Psalm 86:1-10; Matthew 10:24-39; Revelation 4:1-8; 11:15-18
Jun 18, 2017 Worship in the Park (2017)

Due to inclement weather, the West Point Grey Ministerial Association gathered indoors at the West Point Grey United Church. This year, the theme was Welcoming The Stranger. Some of the new refugees to Canada from Syria were present, and the service included readings in both English and Mandarin. The Rev. Dr. Richard Topping, Principal of the Vancouver School of Theology, was the guest preacher, and the title of his talk was “Open to Everyone” based on Acts 10: 34-43. A collection was taken in support of Kinbrace, BC’s longest-serving housing provider for refugee claimants, offering dedicated support and accessible educational resources across Canada.

 

Richard Topping (Worship in the Park) N/A N/A N/A Worship in the Park
Jun 11, 2017 The Holy Trinity: Beyond Doctrine

Jonas Cornelsen delivered a parting message on Trinity Sunday before returning to Winnipeg. We can believe in the revealed nature of a three-in-one God without “pics” or “tapes” to prove it. Unlike the alternative facts of Arianism – which denies that Christ co-existed with our Creator – the Nicene Creed is a helpful synthesis of biblical narratives on the mysteries of a multifaceted God. Jonas reminded us of the Apostle Paul’s Trinitarian blessing in 2. Cor. 13: may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the sharing of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. [KH]

Jonas Cornelsen Travis Martin Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Chris Skinner Genesis 1:1-2:4a Psalm 8 2 Cor. 13:11-13 Matthew 28:16-20 Trinity Sunday
Jun 04, 2017 Touched by the Spirit

For Pentecost, Henry Neufeld challenged us to look beyond Christian Exceptionalism and recognize inspired acts of kindness in anyone touched by the Holy Spirit. Ed Epp related a story of unexpected help when he was able to hitch-hike a ride in an already-full car on a cold day. In our spiritual journey, may we each see the “God particle” in everyone, since they too were made in the image of God. The Jesuit Theologian Karl Rahner described “Anonymous Christians” as unintentional followers of Christ, as the Apostle Paul suggested in Romans 2. Yet we are still called to make disciples as we recognize, support and extend the work of God’s Spirit in others. [KH]

Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Michael Despotovic Ruth Enns Ed Epp Psalm 139:1–10; Exodus 31: 1–11; Joel 2:28 - 29; Acts 10:34-35; Acts 2:14–18; 1 Timothy 2:1–6; Romans 2:13–15 (Peterson) Pentecost
May 28, 2017 Retreat at Camp Luther

On Sunday May 28th, PGIMF will hold its service at Camp Luther where we are attending our annual retreat.

N/A
May 21, 2017 Membership Sunday 2017

We celebrated Membership Sunday by hearing the testimonies of four new members, sang a song and shared a prayer with each one, and welcomed them into the fellowship with communion.

Four new members on Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hilda & Walter Driedger + Lois & Curtis Funk Janice Kreider Catherine Cooper Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Yes
May 14, 2017 Transitions

Catherine Cooper, soon to be Ph.D., spoke about transitions based on her life experiences and the story of Israel demanding a King as told in 1 Samuel 8. Exploration — actively seeking to learn (including from failure) — helps us to grow. In the liminal spaces at the threshold of change, transitions are opportunities for us to make decisions despite uncertainty. It can be easier to listen to the Holy Spirit in the thin moments of time when we leave behind the noise and worries of the world. The Beautiful Not Yet (pg. 6 in PDF) poem by Carrie Newcomer reminds us that we all live between Then and Soon. [KH]

Catherine Cooper Laura Eriksson Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Ed Epp 1 Samuel 8:4-22
May 07, 2017 Loving Certain People

Spiritual director Esther Hizsa challenged us to stop judging and gossiping about certain people who seem hard to love, but instead treat them graciously, as Jesus told us in Matthew 5:43-48. We also heard Jesus say that we shall (will) love our neighbours as ourselves. May the Spirit help us grow in the spiritual practices which awaken us to the reality that all are equally loved by God. [KH]

A selection of quotations from Esther’s message can be downloaded here.

Esther Hizsa Janice Kreider Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Matthew 5:43-48 (NRSV & The Message)
Apr 30, 2017 Sing-along Messiah

G. F. Handel’s The Messiah is more properly an Easter pageant, telling of the life of Christ as foretold in scripture. That it is often performed at Christmas with its emphasis on the Hallelujah chorus announcing the birth of the Saviour can rob it of the power of the remaining score which heralds our own salvation as it did listeners in Handel’s time.  So we again performed selections from whole of The Messiah to the accompaniment of scripture and prayers in a service for singers and listeners both. Many brought friends, their scores, and themselves for a warm welcome from our fellowship.

 

Henry Neufeld J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Yes Yes
Apr 23, 2017 Waging peace in times of terror

Greg Laing (MB Missions Organizer) related stories of the hardships faced by Christians in Asia and Africa who were not afraid as they lived in the Peace of Christ. The world only offers peace through transactional promises, while Jesus offers the peace of his presence. Greg challenged us to mute the violence and ugliness in the media and take time out to commune with God in prayer. We shouldn’t avoid conflict but are called actively work for and speak out for peace. Fear not, because perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). [KH]

NOTE: There is a brief gap in the recording at 22:13 which replaces a redacted personal story.

 

Greg Laing Kevin Hiebert Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Ed Epp John 14: 23-27
Apr 16, 2017 Easter Sunday – Service of songs and prayers

On Easter Sunday we celebrated the Risen Christ with a potluck breakfast beginning at 9:00 am, followed by a service of prayers, readings and singing of Easter songs to celebrate the risen Lord.

Andre Pekovich Ann Marie Neudorf Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Easter Sunday
Apr 09, 2017 Palm Sunday: Stories Inside the Story

On Palm Sunday, Laura Eriksson explored some of the stories inside the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry on a donkey into Jerusalem as told in Matthew 21. All of us have distinct memories of special occasions that are evoked by the garments we wore at the time. In the crowd, people of differing perspectives on who Jesus really was all came together to praise him: followers, skeptics, and the many who had been blessed by his healing touch. Laura’s calligraphy bookmark features the word Aletheia – truth or disclosure in Ancient Greek philosophy – to remind us that Jesus chose that point in his ministry to reveal himself as the Messiah by fulfilling a key prophecy. [KH]

Aletheia - bookmark calligraphy

Laura Eriksson Diane Ehling Angela Ruthven Andre Pekovich Chris Skinner Matthew 21: 1-17, Matthew 20:29-34, Psalm 118:1-2 & 19-29 Palm Sunday Yes
Apr 02, 2017 Moral and Spiritual Messages of Jesus Christ in Islamic Resources

Dr. Nasir Zaidi (Muslim Chaplain at UBC) spoke about some of the sayings attributed to Jesus Christ in the Islamic scriptures. In the Qur’an, Jesus is quoted as claiming to be a soft-hearted and humble servant of God, who warns against being judgmental when our own faults are all too apparent. This world gives us many moral and spiritual challenges to remind us of God and help us prepare for the Day of Judgment. The fifth Sunday of Lent is also two months ahead of the start of Ramadan, so may we all take the time to practice righteous living – taking good actions, with good intentions, resulting in good effects. [KH]

NOTE: you can read the slides that were projected along with his sermon by downloading Jesus and Morality (11-page PDF).

 

Dr. Nasir Zaidi Veronica Dyck Catherine Cooper Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:1-45 Lent V
Mar 26, 2017 Toward a Liberation Theology of Disability

On the 4th Sunday of Lent, Andre Pekovich read a sermon by Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg (Seeing for the First Time) based on the story in John 9 of the man born blind. The metaphorical blindness of the religious leaders was revealed in their presumption of sin as the cause of physical disability. But Jesus refuted that prejudiced view and healed the man to reveal God’s mighty works. People like the R&B singer Ray Charles and the physicist Stephen Hawking show us how much the differently-abled can accomplish. May we recognize the variety in God’s blessings, like that of the English poet John Newton, who wrote in the hymn Amazing Grace, “I once was blind, but now I see.” [KH]

 

A reading from Carl Gregg Michael Despotovic Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Erika Hannan John 9:1-41 Lent IV Yes
Mar 19, 2017 Water: Dignity and Salvation

For the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Jonas Cornelsen (CMU alumnus), spoke on how water is inseparable from dignity and salvation. Salvation can be defined as the full restoration of personal freedom to serve God alone. Human rights overlap with salvation in requiring a minimal level of sustenance for dignity, as the Israelites reminded Moses in the parched wilderness (Exodus 17). Jesus invited the Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4) to recognize water as a symbol of Christ’s life-giving alternative to oppressive social systems. Let us not despair in our search to be refreshed! [KH]

Jonas Cornelsen Erna Friesen Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42 Lent III
Mar 12, 2017 Giving in the Early Church (Part 3)

For Part 3 in his series on giving (continued from Part 1 on May 8 and Part 2 on Aug. 14 last year), Dr. J. Evan Kreider examined the ways that the early church raised funds for the poor in their midst, the needy in other churches, and for missionary works. According to each person’s financial ability, they were called to generously send relief to feed their fellow believers. Failing to provide for family members earned special condemnation, while enthusiastic donations were lauded. Tithing a fixed percentage of our income is not supported by New Testament scripture, but rather, let each of us give as we have decided in our heart, not out of regret or compulsion (Cor. 9:7). [KH]

Generosity lectern PGIMF

J. Evan Kreider Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Ed Epp Acts 4:32-35; Acts 11:27-39; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8; Corinthians 9:6-12; Acts 20:35; Philippians 4; 1 Corinthians 9; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Timothy 5:8 Lent II
Mar 05, 2017 Cruciformity

On the first Sunday of Lent, Thomas Bergen spoke on conformity to the message of the cross. The hymn of Cruciformity in Philippians 2:5-11 sets out the pattern that we need to understand God’s power, love, faith and hope. Across the Apostle Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, we heard many Bible verses explain that Christ’s costly obedience – even to death on a cross – is a model for us on how to humbly show love and have hope. May we live by the faith of/in the Son of God, who loved us by giving himself for us (Gal. 2:19-20). [KH]

Thomas Bergen Laura Eriksson Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Philippians 2:5-11 Lent I Yes
Feb 26, 2017 Peace and Hope: Stories from the Ancient Church

In a joint sermon by Jon Nofziger and Char Siemens, we heard stories of fellow Christians whose church history in the Middle East is ancient.  John talked about his learning tour to Lebanon in May 2016 to see the MCC’s partnerships with churches in and around Syria, and Char spoke about returning to Iraq for 18 weeks. The burdens of daily life vary for displaced peoples depending on their ethnicity and material resources, but mercy and grace abound amidst many struggles. Despite much exhaustion and poverty, the practicalities of peace are being lived out, one meal at a time. The light of Christ shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). [KH]

Char Siemens & Jon Nofziger Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Henry Neufeld Yes
Feb 19, 2017 Current World Affairs: Who’s In Charge?

Rev. Harold Munn (of St. John the Divine, St. Anselm’s, and VST), spoke on Action, Beauty and Community from passages in Isaiah and Mark. At a local level we can see God working, but at a global scale it isn’t clear how God’s purposes are being served. God used the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great to help the Jews return from Babylon to rebuild the Temple. While Titans like Trump and Putin clash and things fall apart, will our faith community engage with the world, or have nothing to say and be no better than a hobby? Our collective actions in response to God’s calling can truly make the world beautiful again! [KH]

Rev. Harold Munn Paul Thiessen Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Isaiah 43: 16-21 & Isaiah 45: 1-6 (connected), Mark 8:1-10
Feb 12, 2017 Martin Luther: Grace is Everything

John Klassen (Professor Emeritus, Trinity Western University) described how Martin Luther emerged from a strict adolescence to become an ascetic monk in his search for a continual state of righteousness. Indulgences that had earlier provided a substitute for pilgrimages had become a comprehensive “pay-to-play” penitential system to fund church operations. The mystery of Christ’s sacrifice is how we are justified by our faithful response to God’s grace, not any particular good works. In the year that we celebrate 500 years of the Reformation, we still hear Luther’s words that “in the midst of death, we live!” [KH]

John Klassen Kevin Hiebert Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Chris skinner Genesis 3: 2-4, 14-19; Romans 5:12-21; Colossians 2: 16-23
Feb 05, 2017 Paying Attention

Jenna Veenbaas (M.Div. student at Regent College) shared a deeply personal reflection on the Martha & Mary account in Luke 10. Jesus’ reaction to Martha’s outburst shows us that responding to his presence is not simply about choosing between hospitality and contemplation; he broke cultural norms to spend time with the women. Are we paying attention to Christ like Mary, or are we too distracted doing things for him like Martha? Are we so busy working for the Kingdom of God that we don’t slow down long enough to seek Christ as we are?  [KH]

 

Jenna Veenbaas Rosie Perera Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Ed Epp Luke 10:38-42
Jan 29, 2017 Ridiculous

Annika Krause (Sherbrooke member, AMBS and SFU grad) returned to speak from the lectionary.  How easy it is for secular people to perceive following God’s commands as absurd. In our post-modern, relativistic, power-hungry world, people who live out a beatitudinal life (or attempt it) are perceived as ridiculous or naïve. As a result, most of us have been embarrassed at some point or other to tell people we’re Christians. If we want to live a Christ-centred life, we need to expect ridicule, take to heart his “naïve” teachings, and live a little “ridiculously.”

NOTE: a congregational meeting followed a potluck lunch.

 

Annika Krause Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12 Congregational Meeting Yes Yes
Jan 22, 2017 The Foolishness of the Cross

Jonas Cornelsen (CMU grad and valedictorian) returned to speak about the great mystery of why God sent Christ to be crucified for us. The wisdom of the world eloquently promotes status and self-improvement. Competition for divine knowledge in Corinth drew the attention of Paul in his first letter to them because they pursued climbing the church hierarchy at the expense of their fellow believers. Even atheist philosophers like Slavoj Žižek think that as Christians we have sold ourselves short on celebrating the apparently foolish logic in such an amazing sacrifice and powerful resurrection! [KH]

Jonas Cornelsen Diane Ehling Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Chris Skinner ISaiah, 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
Jan 15, 2017 Who Was St. Cucufate and Why Do We Have Saints Anyway?

Derek Carr (Assoc. Professor Emeritus, UBC) spoke about obscure saints such as St. Cucufate (a.k.a. Cucuphas). The parish priest of San Cucufate de Llanera (in northern Spain) had written to UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and Derek was asked to comment on the veracity of Juan Garcia’s letter. Not only martyrs, but also little-known saints were beatified in recognition of their exemplary lives after confirming their miracles. The veneration of saints shows reverence for holy Christians who have gone before us, while adoration is reserved for God. The “fast track” Canonization process has been critiqued as politically motivated in some cases. We prayed the Lord’s Prayer after discussing a range of beliefs about intercessory prayer. [KH]

Derek Carr J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
Jan 08, 2017 Sunday January 8, 2017 – CANCELLED DUE TO POOR CONDITIONS

On Epiphany Sunday (January 8, 2017), Greg Laing, Mission Organizer  with MB Missions in BC was due to speak to PGIMF, observing that while the media may be prone to hyperbole, most of us would agree that these times seem more turbulent than typical. A recent CBC Headline shouts: “Without Precedent in Modern Times: Why the world’s vortex of crisis will keep swirling in 2017.” As followers of Jesus with Anabaptist convictions we have a clarified mandate to engage our world for peace. What does that mean for us? Based on the foundational promise of Christ to provide peace and empowering to His faithful, Greg’s message was to weave stories from MB Mission workers with practical suggestions on how to “wage peace” where we live.

Regrettably the service was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

Greg Laing Laura Eriksson Erna Freisen Rosemary Bell Ed Epp John 14:23-27 Yes
Jan 01, 2017 Sunday January 1, 2017 – NO SERVICE

New Year’s Day.  No service today

Dec 25, 2016 Sunday December 25, 2016 – NO SERVICE

Sunday December 25, 2016

Christmas Day – No Service Today.  You are invited to join one of our neighbouring Point Grey congregations for their Christmas Day service

Dec 18, 2016 Service of Readings and Carols – CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW

Sunday December 18, 2016 features a service of carols and readings loosely based on the Christmas Concert from King’s College Cambridge.  This is our chance to sing the Christmas Carols.

Laura Eriksson Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Erna Friesen 4th Advent Yes
Dec 11, 2016 The Christmas Gift

Steve Anonby, one-time pastor at University Chapel, gave us the gift of a message for Advent, beginning: “The story of Saint Nicolas is interesting, but the story of Jesus is amazing.” With references to Christmas carol lyrics throughout the presentation, Steve described the problem of sin, how it separates us from God, and explained God’s plan to re-unite sinful man with a holy God through the gift of his Son Jesus.

 

Steve Anonby Janice Kreider Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld John 3:16; Romans 6:23 3rd Advent
Dec 04, 2016 Sing-along Messiah

On Sunday December 4, 2016, PGIMF invites everyone with an ear for music to join us for our annual Sing-along Messiah.  With scores provided, the congregation and guests will sing the major choruses from the ever-popular Christmas score, while soloists will sing arias, and the service will feature reflective interludes of scripture from which the score draws.  This service highlights the original features of Christmas – the blessing of the once-and-coming king over all the world.

Henry Neufeld J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Edward Epp 2nd Advent
Nov 27, 2016 Advent and Refugees

Henry Neufeld (PGIMF member and former member of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Appeals Board) spoke about the time of waiting in Advent, a theme common to refugees around the world, who also wait in hope. As an interlude, Frieda Epp pointed out the elements in her painting based on the lyrics of the hymn If the War Goes On which we sang as a congregation. We saw slides about refugees from the time that Henry and his wife Tena worked for MCC in Thailand. Will we do as the Bible says in Leviticus 19:34 and treat the foreigners living among us as native citizens, and love them as ourselves? [KH]

Henry Neufeld Travis Martin Curtis Funk Andre Pekovich Chris Skinner 1st Advent Yes Yes
Nov 20, 2016 Eternal Mystery, Fragile Reality

Jonas Cornelsen spoke about the eternal mystery and fragile reality described in his favourite book, Ecclesiastes. The eponymous author (Kohelet, Teacher in Hebrew) cries out that all is vanity – a word better translated as vapour to represent the transient, insubstantial and sometimes foul nature of our short lifespans. On Eternity Sunday we were reminded that while the symbols we use to remember our dearly departed may lose meaning over time, the values of those who shaped us can touch others deeply if we recreate them in our way of living. As we enter Advent, may the story of Jesus bring us together, because whoever is joined with all the living has hope (Eccl. 9:4). [KH]

Jonas Cornelsen Jonathan Ehling Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Ecclesiastes (various verses); Luke 23:33-43; Psalm 139:1-12. Eternity Sunday
Nov 13, 2016 Women as Peacebuilders

We celebrated Peace Sunday with a service of readings, reflections and prayers on the theme of Women as Peacebuilders, led by Veronica Dyck. We heard the stories of five MCC-connected women: Jawahir Mohamed Muse, Leah Wang, Mavis Étienne, Ruth Hill and Sheath Al Azzeh. The Lord Jesus – who called women to stand as witnesses to his life, death and resurrection – calls all of us to be voices for peace. May we truly be people of God’s peace, as we sang in hymn #407.

NOTE: the recording of this service is only available to borrow on CD by request to the Webmaster.

Veronica Dyck J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Psalm 46; Isaiah 40:1-11; Luke 1:1-4 & 8:1-3 & 23:49,55-56 & 24:1-12 Peace Sunday
Nov 06, 2016 Parable of the Prodigal God

Thomas Bergen (Menno Simons Centre Residence Coordinator) continued his series on the parable of the prodigal sons (Oct. 16th) by turning our attention to the father and his extravagant forgiveness and generosity. By holding onto hope despite the pain of rejection, the father’s joy at the return of his lost son prompted a lavish celebration. While patriarchal culture expected rebellious children to be harshly disciplined, this caring parent shamelessly reached out to restore the younger son’s honour and reminded the older son of his impartial love. Will we emulate the grace and mercy that Christ modeled for us? [KH]

Thomas Bergen Curtis Funk Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Luke 15:1-32
Oct 30, 2016 Habakkuk: Living with the Questions

Amy Anderson (Regent College grad) spoke from the lectionary texts of Habakkuk and 2 Thessalonians. The minor prophet boldly asked God the hard questions about why injustice and violence are allowed to continue. The Lord’s answer is a promise, not one of immediate fulfillment. Our calling is to live in a hopeful state of unsatisfaction (rather than a cynical state of dissatisfaction) with faith that God is good and faithful to restore peace and justice at the appointed time. [KH]

Amy Anderson Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10 Yes Yes
Oct 23, 2016 Blessings raining down and rising up

Annika Krause (AMBS and SFU grad) shared her freshly-baked bread and the story from Joel 2:23-32 of God rescuing the land and the people from economic, psychological, and social trauma (see You Are My People by Stulman & Kim). Psalm 65 praises God for watering the earth and blessing its growth. We sang #455 from the hymnal about Christ, the Bread of Life, whose broken body feeds the hunger of our hearts. When the smell of bread reminds us of God’s abundant provision, will we be thankful and consider sharing a “grain offering” with our local food bank? [KH]

Annika Krause Laura Eriksson Catherine Cooper Andre Pekovich Helmut Lemke Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; Luke 18:9-14; 2Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Oct 16, 2016 Parable of the Prodigal Sons

Thomas Bergen spoke on the parable of the prodigal sons (plural). As a self-portrait of our excessive and wasteful living, the story of the younger son tells us that even if we search for love in all the wrong places, we can come to our senses and be welcomed back by a compassionate Father. As an image of our competitive jealousy, like that of the Pharisees, the elder son resented the total forgiveness offered to all sinners. Henri Nouwen interpreted the parable as a challenge and invitation to hear God’s voice of love and return home. [KH]

Thomas Bergen Diane Ehling Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Romans 8: 15-17a; Ezekiel 16:1-6, 9-12, 14-19; Luke 15:11-32
Oct 09, 2016 My Experience with God and the Word

On Thanksgiving Sunday, Frieda Epp (PGIMF) spoke of God and her paintings. As “People of the Book” who historically minimized the value of icons, we can better understand the scriptures by seeing the text portrayed through visual arts.  Frieda took up painting at age 65, beginning with traditional renditions of flowers and landscapes.  But she soon felt compelled to explore ‘real’ life around her, creating paintings which force her (and viewers) to contemplate how faith relates to people such as the homeless, a nun washing the feet of a prostitute, a typically-slumped beggar sitting on a Vancouver sidewalk.  She also often draws inspiration from songs, such as “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder”. [JEK]

© 2016 Frieda Epp (five paintings)

© 2016 Frieda Epp (five paintings)

 

Frieda Epp Catherine Cooper Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Ed Epp Matt 5:1-12; Matt 7:24-27; John 13:1-20; Matt 25:31-46 Thanksgiving Yes
Oct 02, 2016 Come, Wind of the Spirit

Barbara Nickel, award-winning author & poet, shared the story of how she wrote the children’s book, A Boy Asked the Wind (Red Deer Press, 2015). One metaphor for the Spirit of God is a breath of wind. Everpresent, even in the most mundane moments, the Holy Spirit varies as much as the named winds of cultures around the world (e.g. Chinook, Papagayo and Zephyr) are different in their power and warmth. She asked us: how is the wind of the Spirit blowing change into your backyard? [KH]

Barbara Nickel Paul Thiessen J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Luke 3:21-22, 4:14-20, Psalm 104:24-30
Sep 25, 2016 Being Rich, Fearing Hell

Jonas Cornelsen (CMU grad) used the story of the rich man from Luke 16 to explore tensions between the value systems of present human societies and the coming Kingdom of God. What is it about material wealth that is such an obstacle to life as God intended? Those who love and pursue money are worlds apart from those who understand that “downward mobility” (Henri Nouwen) brings contentment. Doris Janzen Longacre’s “More-with-Less” is not just a cookbook, but a way of life. Can we see money as a tool – hold it lightly and give it generosity – rather than as a way of keeping score? [KH]

 

Jonas Cornelsen Victoria Pelletier Catherine Cooper Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15, Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16, 1 Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 16:19-31
Sep 18, 2016 Learning in Lebanon

Ken Friesen spoke about his learning tour with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to Lebanon earlier this summer. After decades of providing relief supplies and social services to local groups helping Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, MCC’s work in Lebanon is now able to help new Syrian refugees as well. By receiving legacy gifts of real estate, the MCC can plan on a source of steady cash flow to help the poorest of the poor. God expects us to provide for refugees (Lev. 19, Deut. 10), and over a series of Sundays we’ve heard how the Parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us to be neighbourly whenever we see a need that we can meet. [KH]

Ken Friesen Erna Friesen Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Chris Skinner Lev. 19:33-34; Deut. 10:18-19; Gen. 41:46-49+53-57; Ps. 24:1; Matt. 25:35-36; Luke 10:25-37
Sep 11, 2016 What’s it all about?

Dr. R Paul Stevens (Regent College Professor Emeritus, Marketplace Theology and Leadership) spoke from Luke 10:25-37 (The Parable of the Good Samaritan) on the two great commandments: to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind (a vertical relationship), and to love our neighbours as ourselves (horizontal relationships). Christianity is less of a religion and more of an invasion of God into our whole lives, giving us a whole new perspective on the world. Love cannot be commanded, but it can be evoked. After the service, we got to know the new and returning Menno Simons Centre students during a BBQ potluck lunch. As William Tyndale (1494-1536) suggested, “to wash dishes and to preach is all one, as touching the deed, to please God.” [KH]

The good Samaritan (after Delacroix) in 1890 by Vincent van Gogh

Painting “The good Samaritan (after Delacroix)” by Vincent van Gogh (1890)

Paul Stevens Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Luke 10:25-37; I Thess 5: 12-24 Student BBQ Yes
Sep 04, 2016 A Response-ibility to Evil

On Sunday September 4th, 2016, Andre Pekovich will read a reflection by Nadia Bolz Weber on violence and evil in our world through the lens of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.

PGIMF will hold an anniversary celebrating 30 years.

Communion will be served.

 

A reading Catherine Cooper Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Ed Epp Yes
Aug 28, 2016 The Value Gap

Henry Klippenstein spoke from the lectionary texts about the gap between what our fallen nature places value on and what is important to the Lord. The prophet Jeremiah used the metaphor of a cracked cistern to represent our misplaced sense of self-sufficiency rather than trusting God to provide living waters. In both the Proverb of the king’s table and the wedding banquet parable in Luke, we see the value of humility in God’s long view of justice. How can we resolve the impasse between marginalized people and mainstream society if we devalue others? The call to humility cuts a wide swath across our shallow valuation of beauty, talent, and education. [KH]

Henry Klippenstein Andre Pekovich Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Henry Neufeld Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:10-16; Proverbs 25-6-7; Luke 14-7-14
Aug 21, 2016 God Calls Us to Rest

Jonas Cornelsen, CMU grad and musician, spoke about genuine Sabbath-keeping from the lectionary texts. As Jesus pointed out in the example of the crippled woman he healed, the break we should be taking on the holy day is not from any kind of work (based on legalistic rules), but from pursuing our own interests. Max Weber (1864-1920) exposed how the Christian work ethic has fueled modern capitalism by falsely treating material success as a sign of God’s favour. Jonas challenged us to look for ways of living that allow us to value rest and justice more than work and wealth. Will we do with joy what honours God? [KH]

Jonas Cornelsen Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Chris Skinner Isaiah 58: 9b – 14; Luke 13: 10 -17; Psalm 103; 1 - 12
Aug 14, 2016 Jesus’ Teachings on Giving: Consider the Needs, not the Seeds

For Part 2 in his series on giving, Dr. J. Evan Kreider continued to explore To Tithe or Not To Tithe, That is the Question in the New Testament. The words of Christ on this topic are surprisingly clear: while you are free to tithe according to the Law or beyond, it is the generosity of your giving that determines whether or not God admits you to heaven. All of the examples in Matthew 25 involve giving directly to the needy: provide food, drink, shelter and clothing to the poor; welcome the stranger; and comfort the sick and the imprisoned. Can we be as radical as Jesus suggested and literally give to everyone who begs from us? [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Kevin Hiebert Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Ed Epp Luke 11:37-42; Luke 18:9-14; Mark 12:40-44; Matt 6:1-4; Matt 5:42; Luke 12:32-34; Matt 19:21-22; Matt 25:31-46
Aug 07, 2016 Be Not Afraid: Waiting Patiently, Giving Generously

Dr. Veronica Dyck showed us how Jesus’ assuring words in Luke 12 remind us to fear not, but trust God’s ongoing joy in sharing the eternal kingdom with us. Are we feeling too anxious or insecure to respond to the needs of the poor? Just as Isaiah called on Israel to seek justice and rescue the oppressed, we are expected to use our wealth for the kingdom’s purposes and not a selfish source of comfort. We can worship God by responding generously as we wait patiently for the Messiah’s unexpected return. When Christ returns, will he find us giving or taking? [KH]

Dr. Veronica Dyck Travis Martin Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Luke 12:32-40; Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 33:12-22; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Jul 31, 2016 The Word is very near to you

UBC anthropology doctoral student Catherine Cooper spoke from the lectionary on Deuteronomy 30:9-14, with reference to the other lectionary texts, including the Parable of the Good Samaritan. She explored what it means that God’s commandment is in our mouths and in our hearts, to show that following this commandment is an active process of listening, learning and practicing. Are we really looking for our neighbour’s needs, and discerning what acts of mercy we can do to pass along God’s love?

Catherine Cooper Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Deuteropnomy 30-9:14; PSalm 25:1-10; Luke 10:25-37
Jul 24, 2016 How Photography Reminds Me to Think About God

Evan showed some of his photographs which have reminded him to contemplate God.  Some photos have reminded Evan to think about dying, about God and death, and what comes after death.  Another series of photos of street people and beggars in Paris and Vancouver have forced him to take a good long look, be uncomfortable, and rethink faith and the idea that each of us is made in the image of God.  The final photos showed earnest individual believers praying in Parisian churches, kneeling on the cold tile floor.  What drove those women to pray in that way?  Do I ever pray with this type of intensity?  The illustrated talk is now available as a streaming video at 2016-07-24-JEvanKreider-sermon.mov (29:13 – play in web browser since it would be a large download).

J. Evan Kreider Curtis Funk Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Ed Epp
Jul 17, 2016 Listening and Living

As part of a service of readings, prayers, music, and communion, we had the time and space to practice listening to God and to each other. Dr. Veronica Dyck shared the reflections of John van de Laar on the lectionary texts about how we should listen to God’s message and respond with truth and integrity as we perform simple acts of justice and compassion. Will we live out the reality of God’s reign in our lives and our world? Hearing a violin duet of the hymn Come Thou Fount of every blessing certainly inspired us! [KH]

Veronica Dyck Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Amos 8:1-12; Psalm 52; Colossians 1:15-29; Luke 10:38-42 Yes
Jul 10, 2016 Christology (John 1:1-5)

Dr. Paul Martens (TH.M, Regent; PhD Notre Dame), Associate Professor of Religion (Ethics) at Baylor University, one-time Residence Coordinator of the Menno Simons Centre with his wife Candace in the 1990s, returned to speak on the Christological explorations of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. Dualistic ideas in The Schleitheim Confession (1527) led to separationist tendencies in our heritage. The prologue in the first chapter of the Gospel of John provides a challenge for us to appreciate the pervasive goodness of Christ in all of nature, including us. Are we equally willing to resist evil structures that perpetuate social and economic evils as we are against physical violence? [KH]

Paul Martens J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf John 1:1-5 Yes
Jul 03, 2016 Encountering God’s Unforced Rhythms of Grace

On Sunday July 3, 2016, Esther Hizsa spoke to Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message) on the unforced rhythms of grace, in opposition to the tireless determination of work-rest.  For want of rest our lives are in danger, our vision is clouded, and our judgment imperfect. “Come, and rest” is a command, not an invitation. Mennonite traditions of work and peace are dangerous without rest – we risk doing violence to ourselves and others. Esther’s experience of a week-long retreat emphasized this as she was resensitized to a deeper love for God. [AP]

Esther Hizsa Laura Eriksson J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Erika Hannan Matthew 11:28-30
Jun 26, 2016 Pray to Shame God

Jason Byassee, Vancouver School of Theology professor, spoke on three models of prayer: bargaining (Abraham’s pleadings to spare Sodom in Gen 18:20-32), the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4), and persistence (like the friend at night in Luke 11:5-13). What if we prayed with the boldness of Abraham in our appeals to God? The concise version of Jesus’ subversive prayer pattern in Luke reminds us to rely on God for our collective sufficiency. What can we accomplish together for God’s Kingdom if we are no longer afraid to ask God for what we all need (and not just what each of us wants)? [KH]

 

Jason Byassee Rosie Perera Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Psalm 138; Gen 18:20-32; Luke 11:1-13
Jun 19, 2016 Worship in the Park (2016)

Worship in the Park (2016)The churches together in West Point Grey invite you to the annual Worship in the Park in Trimble Park near the tennis courts at West 8th Avenue and Trimble Street. Join us at 10:00 a.m. during the Point Grey Fiesta!

Worship in the Park Worship in the Park Worship in the Park N/A Worship in the Park
Jun 12, 2016 This land is (NOT) your land, this land is my land; Lessons in land-sharing

Thomas Bergen spoke from the lectionary texts on lessons in land-sharing. The story in 1 Kings 21 of Jezebel’s scapegoating of Naboth to dispossess the Jezreelite of his ancestral vineyard for King Ahab’s benefit has parallels throughout history in other covetous land grabs justified by a sense of entitlement, while elders and nobles turn a blind eye. Thomas concluded with three lessons in land sharing: accept God’s ownership of all land, accept our partiality (resist greed), and accept responsibility for the consequences of our choices. Will we keep silent and enjoy the benefits of the Doctrine of Discovery, or will we speak up for our indigenous neighbours? [KH]

Thomas Bergen Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan Psalm 32; Leviticus 25:14-17,23; 1Kings 21:1-21
Jun 05, 2016 Through Death and into Life: a Theology of Resurrection

Tim Tse (visiting us from the Bethel Chinese Christian M.B. Church) challenged us to ask: who is at the centre of our theology, Jesus, or ourselves – for what we can get out of a saviour? If we believe that God actually raised people – including Jesus – from the dead, we can have faith that Death will not have the last word. Pacifism only makes sense if it matters that we emulate Jesus, the true Messiah, rather than a charlatan like Jonathan the Weaver (73AD). The reality of a bodily resurrection makes death as a therapy illogical. Stanley Hauerwas suggests that Christians are called to be an alternative to the powers of the world, for whom violence is so easily used.  [KH]

Timothy Tse Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Ed Epp 1 Kings 17:8-24, Psalm 146; 1 Cor. 15:35-58; Luke 7:11-17 Yes
May 29, 2016 God: Closer Than We Imagine – Retreat at Camp Luther

Retreat at Camp Luther: God: Closer Than We Imagine

with Esther Hizsa

 

Sunday May 29, 2016

N/A
May 22, 2016 Dealing with Distraction

Gerald Neufeld (Pastor of Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship) returned to speak on Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42. He encouraged us to recognize when we are “worried and distracted by many things” and how we often try too hard to multi-task (a questionable concept amongst brain scientists). Has perfectionism in hosting or giving in to addictions shifted our focus away from what really matters? Jesus said that “there is need of only one thing” that we must do: follow Christ, the Living Word of God. Have we “chosen the better part” when given the opportunity to spend quality time in our relationships? [KH]

Gerald Neufeld Victoria Pelletier Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Chris Skinner Luke 10:38-42
May 15, 2016 The Final Scapegoat

On Pentecost Sunday, Andre Pekovich used the social theory of mimetic desire and scapegoating propounded by Rene Girard to identify how Christ came to end the recurring violence society does to its weakest members once and for all, and encouraged us to do the same, following in Christ’s footsteps.

Read the message text here and listen to the CBC Radio show Ideas to which he refers at the following links:

Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Matthew 26:57-75; 1 Samuel 15: 17-23; Romans 2:1-11; Leviticus 16:20-22 Pentecost
May 08, 2016 Giving, Part I: To Tithe or Not To Tithe, That is the Question

To tithe or not to tithe, that is the question.  Evan Kreider examines various key Old Testament scriptures articulating exactly what tithing involved:  livestock, grains, garden produce, olive oil, wine, strong drink—but never money.  The Law stipulated that we tithe only that to which God has given life (animals, seeds, things made from processing fruits and seeds).  A subsequent sermon will examine giving in the New Testament scriptures.  [JEK]

J. Evan Kreider Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan Genesis 28:18-22, Leviticus 28:30-34, Numbers 18:23-29, Deuteronomy 14:22-26; 14:27-29, and Malachi 3 Mother's Day Yes
May 01, 2016 On Seed, Sower and Song: Reflections from Matthew 13

Laura Eriksson, inspired by Matthew 13, issued countless images of sower and seed in thanks for the fruit of her long life, the inspiration and love she sees in people around her. The images of the seed are natural allegories for the changes in our lives, and when we keep the Sower in mind, calling on him for advice, our fruit is sure to be good. We are people of God no matter where we are. [AP]

Laura Eriksson Paul Thiessen Erna Friesen Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Matthew 13
Apr 24, 2016 Genocide and Easter Bunnies

Char Siemens spoke of the partnerships between MCC, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Canada Foodgrains Bank, and locals in her report on her recent 7-week teaching assignment in Iraq. Though secure in her town, an hour’s travel away was the front with Daesh. Char told stories of some of the 3 million internally-displaced refugees in Iraq, some of whose children she taught. The words of the risen Jesus to his disciples and friends “Peace be with you” from John 20 may be small comfort as all stand in the face of fear every day, but it is enough. [AP].

NOTE: due to security concerns, the recording is only available upon rrequest to the webmaster. 

P.S. pizza lunch (not a BBQ) and a congregational meeting (AGM) followed. 

Char Siemens Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; Acts 11:1-18; John 20:19-31 Annual General Meeting Yes Yes
Apr 17, 2016 Befriending Death

Thomas Bergen completed his three-part series on the Christian view of death with “Befriending Death” by exploring the paradox of Death as Enemy and Friend. Modern medicine arms us for heroic battles against the evil final consequence of injury or illness. But what a friend we have in Jesus, who holds the keys to Death’s door. The Apostle Paul suggests that in Death we will gain Christ when we give up everything else. Like babies in the womb, we have no idea of the wonders beyond our current reality. A good death is also a final opportunity to reconcile with others. Before the sermon, we sang J.S. Bach’s Komm, süßer Tod (“Come, sweet death”). [KH]

Thomas Bergen Curtis Funk Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Ed Epp 1 Corinthians 15:42-58 and Philippians 1:19-25
Apr 10, 2016 Sing-along Messiah

We sing Easter selections from Handel’s Messiah, with scripture appropriate to the season.

Rosie Perera Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erna Friesen
Apr 03, 2016 The Portrayal of Mary (Maryam) in the Qur’an

Dr. Syed Nasir Zaidi, Muslim scholar and chaplain to UBC’s Muslim community, returned to detail the life and contributions of Maryam (Mary) the mother of Jesus as recorded in the Qur’an. Maryam’s mother Hannah gave her an auspicious name that means worshipping lady, and dedicated her to serve in the Temple. She had many prophetic qualities: she was chosen, purified, and preferred by God over all women, she impressed the elder prophet Zakariyya (Zechariah), and she spoke with angels. As we sang from hymn #180 (The angel Gabriel), “Most highly favoured lady, Gloria!” [KH]

NOTE: you can download the slide presentation at Maryam in Qur’an (PDF).

 

Dr. Syed Nasir Zaidi Veronica Dyck Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Peter Neudorf Qur'an, 3:42-43
Mar 27, 2016 Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday

Easter Music J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Easter Yes Yes
Mar 20, 2016 Confronting Death

Thomas Bergen presented the second sermon in his three-part series on a Christian view of death with Confronting Death. Time is like a river (Lethe, in Greek mythology) in which every moment flows into memory and then forgetfulness. In the midst of life we are dying, but as we die, we are living. Baptism symbolizes our choice to follow Christ in deliberately dying to our old life and trusting God for our new life. Once we stop denying our mortality, we can journey with Jesus to a meaningful final surrender. How can we best allocate each of our dying moments to love? [KH]

Thomas Bergen Travis Martin J. Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Romans 6:1-10 5th Sunday of Lent Yes
Mar 13, 2016 Nations, Missions and God’s Heart

Paul S., in a glimpse of life in another country, mixes his professional life with his personal life through the lens of Psalm 117, the Psalm that most succinctly explains that God’s promise to his people is never conditional. A message of truly good news. [AP]
NOTE: the audio recording is only available upon request to members and adherents.

Paul Schuster Andre Pekovich Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Psalm 117 5th Sunday of Lent
Mar 06, 2016 I am the Resurrection

Jenna Veenbaas presented a dramatic monologue from the perspective of Martha on the death and resurrection of Lazarus, based on John 11:1-45. Do we bitterly express grief and disappointment when our fervent prayers for healing aren’t answered in the time or way that we expect? The power of God was frequently demonstrated by Jesus, who plainly stated that he is the Resurrection and the Life. Even today we see cases of otherwise inexplicable miraculous restoration! [KH]

Jenna Veenbaas Laura Eriksson Catherine Cooper Andre Pekovich Ed Epp 4th Sunday of Lent
Feb 28, 2016 Reflecting the image of God

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them” (Genesis 1:27).  The authors/compilers of the stories in Genesis imagined God informing others in heaven that he had decided to create humans “according to our likeness”.  To this day, we still assume that we have somehow been made in God’s image, but in what ways and to what extent?  Which of our characteristics reflect God’s image and which do not, and how do we decide?  This talk explores passages in scripture and in the writings of Menno Simons, as well as ideas about “Moral Personhood” (Jim Lanctot and Justin Irving, in “Character and Leadership:  Situating Servant Leadership in a Proposed Virtues Framework“, 2007) and Benjamin Franklin (List of virtues based on Biblical principles, 1726).  [JEK]

Kevin Hiebert Jonathan Ehling Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Psalm 99; Exodus 34:29-35; Luke 9:28-36 3rd Sunday of Lent Yes
Feb 21, 2016 Denying Death

Thomas Bergen (Menno Simons Centre Residence Coordinator) began a three-part series on the Christian view of Death. Atul Gwande’s book Being Mortal shows how modern medicine denies death by institutionalizing our final moments, unlike the experience of previous generations. Contemporary funeral services and prosperity gospel churches seem to deny everyone’s inevitable mortality. The Latin writings of Memento mori (“remember that you must die”), Ars moriendi (“The Art of Dying”), and the Order of St. Benedict (“Keep death daily before one’s eyes”) reminded our European Christian ancestors to journey towards a good death. Secular culture denies death by proudly celebrating beauty and wealth in reaction to the void that will silence them, but we can take comfort in the promise that those who do the will of God shall live forever (1 John 2:16-17). [KH]

Thomas Bergen Diane Ehling Evan Kreider Evan Kreider Erika Hannan 2nd Sunday of Lent Yes
Feb 14, 2016 Going Home Again

Henry Neufeld spoke about young people leaving home and returning home again. Jesus returned home to speak in the synagogue of his home town of Nazareth. Small communities have a way of putting people in boxes and not letting them out. The self-righteous can be stubborn and resist hearing that God may choose unlikely people to work through. Will we allow ourselves to be limited by the low expectations and preconceptions of closed minds? What costly decision can we make to show that we’re really willing to take up our cross and follow Christ? [KH]

Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Mark 6:1-6; Luke 4:14-28; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-15 1st Sunday of Lent Yes
Feb 07, 2016 Creating Spaces in Worship

Catherine Cooper invited us to leave room for the presence of God in our worship services. The practice of worship should balance the revelation of God’s grace and the response of the people. Our tradition of piano-accompanied hymn-based worship – and the chapel in which we meet – emphasizes music and lyrics which help us pray and praise. We use the structure of the liturgical calendar but make exceptions when the speaker has a topic to share from the heart. Even silence need not be awkward, as we wait for each other’s responses during sharing and prayer times. As we believe, so we worship. [KH]

Catherine Cooper Kevin Hiebert Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Ed Epp Psalm 95:1-7; 2 Chronicles 29:25-30
Jan 31, 2016 Do English Majors Understand Jesus?

Heather Pauls Murray asked an interesting question:  Do people in the arts (literature/music/art/philosophy, etc.) understand Jesus better than scientists?   In some ways, people want ‘scientific proof’, as did the Pharisees in Matthew 16:14, when asking Jesus to perform a miracle ‘then and there’, a sort of verifiable lab experiment.  He refused, saying that they already had a miracle with Jonah.  In Matthew 16:5-12, the disciples took ‘yeast’ literally when Jesus warned them of the yeast of the Pharisees.  However, a frustrated Jesus had to point out that they were to understand this yeast metaphorically (arts) rather than literally (scientifically).  Although we can try to explain Beethoven’s music by analyzing its varying wave lengths, this would not explain our emotional response to the music’s power.  Some things, some truths, cannot be explained in labs or by clear answers.  “Our faith is nurtured by asking questions, not by knowing answers.”  At the top levels, this is true of both arts and science.   [JEK]

Heather Murray Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Matthew 8:5-13 Matthew 16:1-4 Matthew 16:5-12 Yes Yes
Jan 24, 2016 The Space in Which We Worship

Catherine Cooper reminded us that our church buildings aren’t specified by God like the Tabernacle in Exodus 25 or Solomon’s Temple in 1 Chronicles 28. She referred to Jeanne Halgren Kilde’s book, Sacred Power, Sacred Space: An Introduction to Christian Architecture and Worship, which describes how the layout of a sanctuary can reinforce power relationships, such as by elevating the clergy at the front. What design aspects of worship space are important to us individually and as a congregation – natural light, artwork, acoustics, and seating arrangements? Where else besides our current chapel can we feel as safe and comfortable as we praise, pray and fellowship together? [KH]

Catherine Cooper Erna Friesen Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Ezekiel 43:7,10-12; Psalm 84:1-4; Revelation 21:22-27 World Fellowship Sunday [MWC]
Jan 17, 2016 The Pearl of Great Price (Pt. II)

Henry Klippenstein asked, what is that one thing that you would be willing to give up everything to obtain? Out of duality-thinking (Rohr) arise our judgements and opinions – our false self (Merton) which Jesus calls to abandon in favour of our true selves (Mark 8). God is in our DNA – the ‘true self’ that is in God. We cannot abandon or discard our false self with heroic effort, but we can side-step it with the lessons taught by others – elderly, handicapped, the young, who teach us the value of the experience of the present moment. This is our lifelong mission, and the pearl of great price. [AP]

Henry Klippenstein Andre Pekovich Evan Kreider Evan Kreider Erna Friesen John 10:22-39; John 17:20-26; Matthew 13:44-46; 2Peter 1:3-4.
Jan 10, 2016 The Baptism of Jesus

J. Evan Kreider spoke on the Baptism of Jesus from Luke 3:1-22. John the Baptist gave three practical examples of how to demonstrate repentance: share your wardrobe and food with the needy, collect only what you earn, and be satisfied with your wages. We don’t know why Jesus went to John to be baptized, but to be consistent with the other baptisms, surely it was for the symbolic act of washing away the past and resolving to live differently. With faithful family members like Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Jesus must have had a good upbringing, but still needed a fresh start to his ministry. May God give us guidance as we aim to make better decisions in the coming year. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Victoria Pelletier Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Yes
Jan 03, 2016 Beginning with the End – an Anabaptist Eschatology

On Epiphany Sunday, Gareth Brandt, Instructor at Columbia Bible College, described two competing ways to avoid the cataclysmic last days of the Earth: Escapist (count on the Rapture) and Secularist (count on human progress). Gareth proposed a third way based on Anabaptist eschatology (end times study), in which the judgment of Jesus can be eagerly anticipated as the time when all things will be made right. Like Nelson Mandela’s prison garden on Robben Island, we can cultivate living hope, since Christ is “coming soon” (in kairos time, not a specific chronos time) and will return unexpectedly at the opportune moment. With the inevitable end of the world in mind, “... what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God …” (2 Peter 3:11). [KH]

Gareth Brandt Paul Thiessen Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Ed Epp 2 Peter 3:1-13 Yes
Dec 27, 2015 The Hours of the Mystics

Christian Mysticism is defined by C.S. Lewis as “the direct experience of God, immediate as a taste or color.” Andre explained the historical context and writings of several mystics who were controversial in their time: Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-395), Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), Jacopone da Todi (c.1230-1306), Mechthild of Magdeburg (c.1207-1282), Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), and Thomas Merton (1915-1968). Even the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (2:12-16) uses the language of direct spiritual discernment. A common priority of the mystics seems to be deeply personal and contemplative prayer. [KH]

Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 Yes
Dec 20, 2015 Song and Readings for Christmas

On Sunday December 20th, our festive service of scriptures and readings for Christmas created in the tradition of the Carols and Lessons Service from Kings College Cambridge was led by Veronica Dyck.  Our service was preceded by our traditional Christmas potluck breakfast.

N/A Veronica Dyck Ann Marie Mossman Ruth Enns Ed Epp Yes Yes
Dec 13, 2015 Habakkuk

For the third Sunday of Advent, J. Evan Kreider spoke on Habakkuk chapters 1-3. In the context of the Chaldean (neo-Babylonian) intimidation of Judah, the minor prophet cried out “woes” on the coming conquerors. In a vision, Habakkuk saw God executing furious judgment, yet he rejoiced in the Lord while waiting patiently. May the Lord be our strength, make us sure-footed like a deer, and enable us to tread upon the heights (3:19). [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Timothy Tse Curtis Funk Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan Habakkuk 1;Psalm 126; Philippians 3:7-16; Matthew 21:28-32 Yes
Dec 06, 2015 Sing-along Messiah

Our annual Sing-along Messiah was bravely attempted with 40 voices and two soloists giving flight to G.F. Handel’s Christmas classic oratorio, accompanied by Ruth Enns at the piano.

None Henry Neufeld Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Yes
Nov 29, 2015 What Does God Get?

Luke Schuster (resident at the Menno Simons Centre) began Advent with a lively challenge to consider whether or not we can be selfless like the examples of David (Ps. 30) and the Slave Girl (2 Kings 5). When we experience the blessings of taste & music, and even in the power demonstrated in natural disasters, will we recognize the glory of God? As we enjoy our Christmas traditions, will we ask ourselves, “How can this glorify God?”  [KH]

NOTE: the PowerPoint presentation (including the audio recording) is only available upon request to members and adherents. Contact the Webmaster for details.

Luke Schuster Travis Martin Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen 2 Kings 5:2-3 & 14-15 Yes Yes
Nov 22, 2015 Living as people of peace

Jon Nofziger (MCC-BC Constituency Engagement) brought a message of peace from his work with the Mennonite Central Committee. We heard the courageous story of Paulus Hartono, a Javanese Mennonite pastor and co-founder of the Forum for Peace Across Religions and Groups (FPLAG) in Solo, Indonesia. Years of building trust and relationships paid off with a turning point of averted violence that didn’t make the news. Will we fall for society’s tendencies to fear, despair, or hate — or will we sow seeds of love, in faithfulness and hope? [KH]

Jon Nofziger Diane Ehling Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Romans 12:9-21 Yes
Nov 15, 2015 For Such a Time as This

Willard Metzger (Executive Director of the Mennonite Church Canada and Vice-President of The Canadian Council of Churches) spoke about how our Anabaptist faith gives us a divine responsibility to speak out at this time in history, as Ether (4:11-17) was called to do. Palmer Becker’s booklet What is an Anabaptist Christian? articulates three core Anabaptists values: Jesus is the center of our faith; Community is the center of our lives; and Reconciliation is the center of our work. What personal or professional risks are we willing to take in order to face the moral challenges of climate change, poverty and social justice? [KH]

 

 

Willard Metzger Henry Neufeld Curtis Funk Andre Pekovich Chris Skinner Esther 4:11-17; Psalm 146 Yes
Nov 08, 2015 Growing in Love (Ephesians 4:16): Reflection on Christian Community from Jean Vanier

Thomas Bergen returned for the 2nd part of his reflection on Christian communities. God has given the Church a diversity of gifts to build the unified body of Christ. The Apostle Paul’s paradox of keeping the unity of Spirit while seeking the unity of Faith is consistent with his advice in other epistles calling for churches to grow in love for each other. Jean Vanier’s L’Arche is an inspiring demonstration of how love grows when we see ourselves in others, face our vulnerabilities, and share our histories. Are we a community growing in love as we  try to follow Jesus together? [KH]

Thomas Bergen Laura Eriksson Evan Kreider Kathi Suderman Peter Neudorf Ephesians 4:1-16; 1John 4:7-21 Yes
Nov 01, 2015 The Dwelling of God (Ephesians 2:22): Reflections on Christian Community from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Where charity and love are, God is there. The Latin-based lyrics from a song launched Thomas Bergen into a search for the dwelling of God, the place we can we go to be with God. Thomas noted that the Christian community holds the promise of re-sacralizing our world and our lives. Through the story of Dietrich Bonhöffer’s stay and death in Tegel prison, Thomas demonstrated God’s presence in the community that sustained Bonhöffer; this, then is where the dwelling of God is to be found. [AP]

Thomas Bergen Paul Thiessen Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Ed Epp Revelation 1:9-11; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1Kings 8:22-30 Yes Yes Yes
Oct 25, 2015 Listen to Your Life

Esther Hizsa — a graduate of Regent College, a facilitator for courses on spiritual formation, a blogger on contemplative topics and a former part-time pastor of the New Life Community Church in Burnaby — spoke on “Listen to your Life”. Have we examined the moments and events of our lives for how God may be speaking to us? It’s easy to make 3 common mistakes: presume that we know what God is saying; fear that we’re doing something wrong; or assume that God is always teaching us a lesson. Can we really ask God in every situation, “How are you loving me in this?” [KH]

Esther Hizsa Rosie Perera Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Mark 4:35-41; Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 46 Yes Yes
Oct 18, 2015 Walking with God; Walking Together

Helen Rose Pauls spoke on Romans 12 and the inspiration that she got from this summer’s 2015 Mennonite World Conference. The majority of the global Mennonite family are outside of North America and Europe, yet we all share core Anabaptist concepts: peace and non-violence, service, discerning scripture together, and community. Each country’s Mennonites face unique challenges, so the gathering every 6 years in a different host city provides a way to worship together and learn from each other’s traditions. Community means that we believe we’re called to consider not what’s best for each of us individually, but what’s best for our family and Christ’s church. On the spectrum of autonomy to community, are we dancing between walking alone and walking together? [KH]

Helen Rose Pauls Henry Neufeld Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Chris Skinner Romans 12:3-13 Yes
Oct 11, 2015 Thanksgiving 2015

Veronica Dyck led a service of Scriptures, readings and prayers on the theme of giving thanks. Communion was served.

NOTE: Since a worship service booklet of responsive readings and bible verses was distributed, no bulletin was published. A recording was made on CD (available to borrow) but since there was no sermon, an audio recording is not posted online.

 

Readings & Prayers Veronica Dyck Evan Kreider Kathi Suderman Henry Neufeld Thanksgiving Yes
Oct 04, 2015 When the World is in Chaos

Rod Suderman spoke about how we expect life to be predictable and ordered by the seasons of life, but when the unexpected happens, we grasp for an explanation. From the friends in the Book of Job, we learned that quoting moralistic scripture verses can be a cold comfort. Instead, we should be quiet and present with our friends in their suffering. When life doesn’t seem fair, it’s not our place to demand an explanation from the God who made the monsters of land (Behemoth) and sea (Leviathan). Until all of creation is redeemed, calamities will continue to afflict the innocent in our chaotic world. In the meantime, we can look forward to justice in the end by walking with Immanuel (God with Us) through our dark valleys. [KH]

Rod Suderman Andre Pekovich Catherine Cooper Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Job 1.1; 2.1-10, 10.1-9, 38.1-7, and 42.1-6, Psalm 8; Hebrews 1:1 - 2:10 Yes
Sep 27, 2015 Reluctant Responder – Moses Objects to God’s Call

Winston Pratt continued his series on “The Call of Moses” by evaluating Moses’ objections to God’s call as recorded in Exodus 3:10-4:16. In his extended dialogue with God, Moses raised four reasonable concerns (I’m a nobody, whom do I say has sent me, why should they believe me, and I can’t speak eloquently) and for each one God had an assuring answer. Moses finally tries to excuse himself (“send someone else”) but God loses patience and says that he has already called Moses’ brother Aaron to be the spokesman. We learned that God offers presence before demonstrations of power, and gives his words as promises before delivering in deeds.  [KH]

Winston Pratt Erna Friesen Curtis Funk Curtis Funk Peter Neudorf Yes
Sep 20, 2015 Recollections

Sarah Williams (lecturer at Regent College) spoke on the theme of Recollections based on Psalm 63. When David was out in the Judean wilderness, his situation in life was described in 2 Samuel 15-16 as a King humiliated by the coup of his son Absalom. The parched desert amplifies David’s spiritual thirst, but he was refreshed  by recalling four beautiful images: the sanctuary in Jerusalem; being comforted in bed through the watches of the night; the shadow of God’s protective wings; and being upheld by the strong right hand of God, to which he clings. We were then challenged to recall the times that God has met with us, and take refreshment from those memories. [KH]

Sarah Williams Rosie Perera Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Psalm 63 Yes
Sep 13, 2015 Toward the Future – Student Welcome to MSC

Walter Bergen is one of the best Mennonite story tellers of his generation.  In his sermon welcoming students back to university and to the Menno Simons Centre, he tells three stories, each illustrating a saying.  The first:  “Two things separate you from the animal kingdom:  the ability to pray and the ability to think.  Go and do both!”  The second, drawn from the difficult days of the Soviet Union concluded with the advice, ” The work that you do, for good or ill, will have an impact on others.”  And the final story illustrated the saying, “You will be remembered in this world for what you gave, not what you got.”  [JEK]

A potluck BBQ lunch was held after the service.

 

Walter Bergen Thomas Bergen Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Numbers 6 Student Welcome BBQ Yes Yes
Sep 06, 2015 The Impossible Dream

PGIMF celebrated its 29th anniversary with a message from one of our founding members, Dr. John Friesen, whose tireless struggle to develop a student ministry at the University of BC is well reflected in a message of hope for our future as a congregation and in the student residence in which we worship.  Key scripture: 2Corinthians 3:5-6

John Friesen Janice Kreider Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Ed Epp 2Corinthians 3:1-6; Psalm 90; Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 15:9-17 Yes
Aug 30, 2015 Come Creator Spirit

Dr. Ruth Enns (a musicologist teaching at the Vancouver Academy of Music) spoke on one of the oldest hymns still being sung today, Veni Creator Spiritus (“Come, Creator Spirit”).  Christian hymns are versified songs of praise which grew out of the synagogue tradition.  Jesus sang a hymn at the Last Supper, Paul advised churches to sing hymns, psalms and spiritual songs.  Veni Creator Spiritus was already being sung by the time of the Church Fathers, and is in the style of hymns championed by Augustine. Although the chant version is still sung in monasteries, secular composers have also been inspired by it:  Duruflé, Palestrina, Luther, Frank, Gounod, Hindemith, Penderecki and Mahler (Symphony of a Thousand), and in 1998 Pope John Paul spoke about it in his Pentecost homily. [JEK]

Ruth Enns Catherine Cooper Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Ed Epp Yes
Aug 23, 2015 Temple, Torah, Telos, Throne

Timothy Tse challenged us with the obvious question, “Where are we right now?” Do we see our place in the world as the past and future Temple — the throne room of God? The purpose (Telos) of God’s creation of humankind was to bear the image of God. Christ fulfilled the prophecies in the Law (Torah) and invited us to become the Temple in the Kingdom of God. The one unique thing that the church can do is testify to the hope we have because of God’s ultimate rule over the world. May our worship and daily lives show up as realistic images of God. [KH]

Timothy Tse J. Evan Kreider Curtis Funk Kathi Suderman Erna Friesen Gen. 1:26-28; 2:8-14, Ezekiel 47:1-12, Acts 2:1-4, Eph. 2:11-22 Yes
Aug 16, 2015 Towards a Christian Theology of Light

Richard Bergen (brother of Thomas, the Residence Coordinator at the Centre) examined a Christian theology of light through a myriad of scriptures and the writings of many theologians. Light has so many compelling attributes, especially when compared to the opposing darkness, that it serves as a powerful metaphor to help us relate to the transcendent God. While Gnostics and Platonists deified physical Light, Isaiah recognized that someday the Sun will stop shining, and Christians believe that Jesus is God’s unique source of spiritual illumination. As the Sunday School song goes, “Hide it under a bushel? No!” [KH]

Richard Bergen Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan 1 John 1:5-7; 2 Cor 4:6; Jn 12:27-36a; Eph 5:1-14 Yes
Aug 09, 2015 Reflections on a Medieval Spanish Miracle Tale

Derek Carr spoke on “The Plight of the Pregnant Prioress and the Power of Prayer – Reflections on a Medieval Spanish Miracle Tale”. He told the story of The Pregnant Abbess, Miracle #21 in the Milagros Nuestra Señora (a poetic collection by the 13th Century priest Gonzalo de Berceo from the Rioja region of Spain). As a type of Virgin Mary, the scandalized but faithful mother demonstrated more than an intellectual assent to the possibility of a miracle when she petitioned Our Lady of Perpetual Help (after which our neighbouring Catholic Parish is named) for mercy. Can we too be granted a miracle in the intertwined physical and spiritual aspects of daily life through the kind of prayer that demonstrates a direct personal relationship? [KH]

NOTE: No published bulletin this Sunday

Derek Carr J. Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Kathi Suderman Henry Neufeld Mark 1:29-34 Yes
Aug 02, 2015 Songs & Prayers When Seeking Guidance

We alternated between singing hymns, reading the lectionary Bible texts, and hearing prayers by J. Philip Newell, William Burleigh, Frank Topping, Miles Coverdale, William Bright, Michael Quoist, St. Augustine, and Alcuin of York. In the parting prayer of David B. Calhoun, we joined together to ask God to quiet our fears, cease our strivings, and know the heights of his love and the depths of his peace. [KH]

Travis Martin Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 and Psalm 78:23-29 and John 6:24-35 and Proverbs 1:2-7 Yes
Jul 26, 2015 What Happens When God Shows Up?

Winston Pratt spoke from Exodus 3:1-12 about Moses’ encounter with God at the Burning Bush. In the middle of nowhere, God grabbed the attention of an old shepherd with an extraordinary sign. Far from his privileged life in Egypt, Moses recognized God’s Caller-ID and answered. Are we looking out for the “grace notes” that God places in our paths? Redemption is more than a rescue, it’s the opportunity to participate in God’s plan for a better future. Praise the God who knows us by name, makes himself known, calls us into his mission at any age, and then equips us for the task. [KH]

 

Winston Pratt Jonathan Ehling Curtis Funk Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Exodus 3:1-12 Yes
Jul 19, 2015 Eric & Vincent

Henry Neufeld’s message on “Eric & Vincent” recalled two prophetic voices that made an impression on him. Prophets of old like Jeremiah used extreme methods like casting off their clothes to draw attention to God’s message. More than 12 years ago, Eric Hannan’s sermon at PGIMF featured an altar call to smash pieces of pottery as symbols of what needs to be discarded from our lives. Dr. Vincent Harding, as a speechwriter who adopted his wife’s pacifist Mennonite faith, gave Martin Luther King Jr. the words “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” May each of us have the courage to confront what needs to be discarded and act on the message of God. [KH]

NOTE: Henry mentioned the book Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year by Tavis Smiley.

Henry Neufeld Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan Jeremiah 18: 1-10, Jeremiah 24:1-10, and Matthew 10:40-42 Yes
Jul 12, 2015 Spiritual Warfare for Mennonites III: The Powers and Principalities in Paul’s Epistles

Thomas Bergen’s spoke on “Spiritual Warfare for Mennonites III: The Powers and Principalities in Paul’s Epistles”. The last sermon in this 3-part series concluded his exploration of the paradox of violent language to describe a non-violent kingdom. The early church understood Christ’s death and resurrection as acts of a spiritual conqueror, frequently referring to Psalm 110 about how God will make Jesus’ enemies his footstool. The Bible’s ambiguous vocabulary for powers & principalities highlights the dualities of the personal & structural, negative & positive, and earthly & heavenly. As Mennonites, do the organizational structures and institutions that we support sufficiently contribute to the Kingdom of God? What are we in the church doing to make known the wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities (Ephesians 3:10)?

Thomas Bergen Rosie Perera Angela Ruthven Cara Bergen Henry Neufeld Psalm 82, 1 Cor. 15:24, Col. 1:15-16, 2:10, 2:15, Ephesians 1:17-23, 3:7-10, 6:12, and Titus 3:1 Yes
Jul 05, 2015 Whenever I am weak, then I am strong

J. Evan Kreider’s sermon was based on the Apostle Paul’s 2nd letter to the church at Corinth. After establishing his credentials as a persecuted sufferer in chapter 11,  Paul challenged rival preachers while refraining from boasting about visions as they did. Power-seekers embellish their curriculum vitae (c.v.) to compete for leadership positions, but do extraordinary spiritual experiences really grant authority from God? We could speculate about his ‘thorn in the flesh’ but Paul puts forward his weaknesses as source of strength. Are we full of the Spirit, or just full of ourselves? How can God’s power become evident through the weaknesses of our Fellowship? [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Janice Kreider Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Ed Epp 2 Corinthians 12:2-10; Ezekiel 2:1-7 Yes
Jun 28, 2015 Healing and Wholeness

On June 28, 2015, Rod Suderman spoke on two intertwined stories told in Mark 5, Jairus seeking healing for his daughter, and a woman with hemorrhaging touching Jesus’ garment while he was walking to the house of Jairus. In both stories, people desperately sought healing and restoration. Jairus approached Jesus openly, while the unnamed woman shyly tried to touch his garment without even being noticed. Both people experienced physical healing as human beings, and this undoubtedly also enabled emotional healing, and possibly even spiritual healing. These stories remind us that we, like Adam (who was made from mud, adama), are made from earth (and given souls), earthly creatures vulnerable to all types of brokenness. God’s Spirit can help us restore broken people, just as that same Spirit once enabled Jesus to offer assistance to those seeking restoration.  [JEK]

Rod Suderman Andre Pekovich Lisa-Dawn Markle Kathi Suderman Chris Skinner Lamentations 3:22-33, Mark 5:21-43, 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 Yes
Jun 21, 2015 Aboriginal Sunday – Service in the Park

You are invited to join with the other six West Point Grey churches* for a joint Service in Trimble Park this morning beginning at 10:00 am. See the Point Grey Fiesta site for a map & transit info to join us at 8th Avenue and Trimble Street (since we will not be meeting in the chapel of the MSC).

This Sunday is Aboriginal Day, the theme will be reconciliation.

We will have a welcome from Elder Ruth Adams on behalf of her Musqueam relatives; the sermon will be by the Rev. Mary Fontaine, director of Hummingbird Ministries.

Mary Fontaine is Cree from the Mistawasis First Nation in Sask. She is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, an Executive Committee member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Indigenous advisor for an Advisory Committee at the Canadian School of Peace of the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg and the Chair of the Native Ministries Consortium of the Vancouver School of Theology. After graduating with an M.Div. from the Vancouver School of Theology, Mary became the founding Director of Hummingbird Ministries, a ministry for healing and reconciliation with Indigenous people living in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Hummingbird Ministries was established in January, 2005, at the Central Presbyterian Church and the first Circle was held at the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) hosted by Elder Ruth Adams. Hummingbird become a ministry of the Presbytery of Westminster in 2008 and several circle ministries have been established in the lower mainland. A Circle consists of sharing food, prayer, sharing in a circle and a program or activity. To promote reconciliation, Hummingbird brings Church and Canadian folks together with Indigenous People through cultural and performing arts programs and a healing path workshop program.

*  Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, St Helen’s Anglican Church, University Hill Congregation, West Point Grey Baptist Church, West Point Grey Presbyterian Church, West Point Grey United Church

Rev. Mary Fontaine (Hummingbird Ministries) Worship in the Park Angela Ruthven Rosemary Bell N/A Worship in the Park (Point Grey Fiesta) Yes
Jun 14, 2015 Spiritual Warfare for Mennonites II: The Gospels and Jesus’ War

Thomas Bergen continued his series on Spiritual Warfare for Mennonites with “The Gospels and Jesus’ War” (Part 2 of 3). How can we understand the life of Jesus without appreciating the militaristic terminology the Gospel writers used to describe the battle that He fought? Jesus believed in Satan, so how can we deny the language which was meant to help us see reality as He did? As God’s divine warrior, Jesus can cast out the Spirit of the Age that would otherwise possess us. Let us imitate Christ in healing those oppressed by the Devil, through activism, hospitality and prayer. [KH]

NOTE: During the response time discussion about the paradox of violent imagery in a non-violent theology, he recommended the book Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament by Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld (2011).

Thomas Bergen Paul Thiessen Veronica Dyck Cara Bergen Erna Friesen Mt 4: 8-11; Mt 16:16-18; Lk 11: 20-22, Mark 1 highlights Yes
Jun 07, 2015 Steadfastness in the Midst of Change

Rosie Perera spoke on “Steadfastness in the Midst of Change” based on hope (in God, not in specific outcomes), memory (by recalling and passing down the stories of God’s faithfulness), and friendship (with each other and with God). Are we like Abram, getting on in years, yet asked to leave our comfort zone for new opportunities in a new location? The history of Anabaptists shows how often God has helped our global family of churches through hardship and transformation. May the Holy Spirit help us all to be resilient as we continually grow and change. [KH]

Rosie Perera Diane Ehling Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Ed Epp Gen 12:1-9; Heb 11:8-12; Rom 5:1-5; Ps 102:11-12, 24-28 Yes
May 31, 2015 The Meaning of Intercession of Jesus in the Light of the Qur’an

Dr. Syed Nasir Zaidi, the Muslim chaplain at UBC and a member of the Multi-Faith Chaplains Association at UBC, shared about one of the issues of faith that is common to the Christian and the Islamic traditions. Many of us were surprised to learn that the Qur’an describes Jesus as a living Word of God, with a central role in the Day of Resurrection — the one honoured witness with the authority to intercede for us. While we deserve the full force of divine Justice, Christ’s unique standing with God gives us the opportunity for Mercy and Forgiveness on the Day of Judgment. [KH]

NOTE: you can also view the slide presentation (11-page PDF).

Dr. Syed Nasir Zaidi Veronica Dyck Angela Ruthven Kathi Suderman Ed Epp Deut. 4:32-34; Psalm 29; Romans 8:26-39 Yes
May 24, 2015 Church Retreat at Camp Luther

We held our annual church retreat at Camp Luther, which was well attended by all, including
guests and four children! Featuring discussions and round-table group sessions on the future of our
congregation’s location, Rod and Kathi Suderman’s Sunday service summed up our commitment to each
other in a candle-lighting ceremony. There was no recording of this service.

not applicable Camp Luther / Pentecost Yes
May 17, 2015 Spiritual Warfare for Mennonites I: The Call to War

Thomas Bergen pointed out that spiritual warfare is demanding, a real war, and is actually a call to love. Do we fail to hear Christ’s call to war by downplaying the commitment expected of us, denying the reality of Satan, or using the language in Ephesians 6 to justify violence? Will we join Christ in the way of the Cross to sacrifice our lives to struggle in love for the weak and powerless? We then heard Thomas’ Christianized adaptation of Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech, dramatically read by his brother, Richard. [KH]

Thomas Bergen Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Cara Bergen Erika Hannan 2Tim 2:1-4; 2Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:10-20; Ps 98 Yes
May 10, 2015 Spiritual Mothers

Jo White spoke about “Spiritual Mothers” on Mother’s Day. Naomi could be described as a spiritual matriarch, starting with her care for Ruth. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was spiritually mothering to her younger cousin Mary. Jo’s own Mrs. Fitness demonstrated the power of generosity and hospitality in small spaces. At any age we are all in need of encouragement from spiritual parents to help us grow in our knowledge of the love of Christ. [KH]

Jo White Laura Eriksson J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Ruth 1:6-11a, 16-18, Luke 1:5-7, 13-17, 23-25, 39-45 Mother's Day Yes
May 03, 2015 Take Heart

Angelika Dawson from the Communitas Supportive Care Society, in a message for Mental Health Week, offered her personal perspective on caring for those who are working toward mental wellness. If we find ourselves facing a mental illness, the Bible encourages us to be courageous and honestly share our need, and to be content with small successes on the path from the dark to the light. May God give us the strength to be a patient, open listener — a friend and advocate for those needing mental health support. [KH]

Other helpful resources include Sanctuary Ministries (including the Living Room peer support groups), the BC division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia (AnxietyBC), the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia.

Angelika Dawson Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf John 16:29-33, Psalm 139, Philippians 4:4-7, Romans 8:37-39 Mental Health Awareness Week Yes
Apr 26, 2015 Hymns as Prayers for Believers, Young and Old

J. Evan Kreider (retired professor of music history), offered a look at the poetry of 6 hymns, each addressing an aspect, an age or a concern in the life of the believer: #480 (Shepherd of tender youth), #479 (Lord of our growing years), #481 (O God, your constant care), #486 (God of our life), #485 (Teach me the measure of my days), and #483 (O God, who gives us life and breath). Our Annual General Meeting followed after a pizza lunch hosted by the fellowship. [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Victoria Pelletier J. Evan Kreider Kathi Suderman Henry Neufeld Psalm 39; Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 Yes Yes Yes
Apr 19, 2015 Diversity and Identity

Dick Benner, editor and publisher of the Canadian Mennonite magazine, spoke on “Diversity and Identity” based on Ephesians 4:1-6. Do we revere diversity rather than the One who created it? Jesus’ passionate prayer was for the unity of his disciples. Can we yield our ethnic and theological identities to keep the Body of Christ together? As an independent church press, CM tries to weave the threads of diverse conversations into the fabric of our identity as an Anabaptist people. [KH]

Dick Benner, Editor Canadian Mennonite Karl Brown Thomas Bergen Cara Bergen Peter Neudorf Ephesians 4:1-6 Yes
Apr 12, 2015 Together in Unity

Compelling ideas inspire followers, committed followers inspire others, and the relationships they create move worlds. Kevin Hiebert used John 1 to show how leadership arises out of “followership”, and the unity of both blesses the world like the oil running down Aaron’s beard (Psalm 133). Our followership extends this blessing to the poor (in both riches and spirit) by committing ourselves to mutual aid, (Acts 3) making poverty not a problem to be fixed, but a wound in the fabric of the community to be healed. Thus, ”tax-cutting” politicians are not leaders, and we ought not follow them. [AP]

Kevin Hiebert Janice Kreider Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Edward Epp 1 John 1:1-2:2; Psalm 133 and Acts 4:32-35 1st Sunday after Easter Yes
Apr 05, 2015 Readings and Songs for Easter

On Apr. 5, 2015 we celebrated Easter with a service of readings and songs from the Easter story written by J. Evan Kreider.

No speaker - worship service only J. Evan Kreider Andrea Siemens (away) Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Easter Yes Yes
Mar 29, 2015 When the Cheering Stops

On Palm Sunday, Tony Tremblett spoke on John 12:1-19 about the anointing and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. How is it possible that one day the crowds around Jesus were shouting “hosanna!”, and less than a week later, were shouting “Crucify him”?  What would have become of Jesus if he had searched for approval by the polls? Do we know our value to God, and do we understand love with our hearts — or just our minds? Let us pray for the courage to resist the pressures of fickle crowds and stand with Jesus. [KH]

Communion was celebrated, and the MSC Student Year-End BBQ followed the service.  All student residents of the MSC were invited to enjoy the meal as were all guests to the fellowship. Regular attenders were invited to bring a dessert or salad to share – farmer sausage and veggie burgers were supplied.

 

Tony Tremblett Rod & Kathi Suderman Erna Friesen Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld John 12:1-19 Palm Sunday Yes Yes
Mar 22, 2015 Thy Kingdom come

Johann David Funk spoke on “Thy Kingdom come” based on the lectionary texts. Jeremiah and King David anticipated the New Covenant in contrast to the stern images of God elsewhere in the Old Testament. Jesus created space for reflection and positive change in the stories of the woman caught in adultery, the persistent Widow (God) and the unjust judge (you & I), and the Centurion of great faith — even enemies are not beyond redemption. Is the New Covenant like a new Operating System that sweeps away our accumulation of patches and updates to the Law? How can we reflect the “Kingdom that looks like Jesus” (Gregory A. Boyd) while we are in the world but not of this world? [KH]

Johann David Funk Veronica Dyck J. Evan Kreider Kathi Suderman Erna Friesen Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33 Lent V Yes
Mar 15, 2015 Discontentment or Gratitude

John Klassen spoke about our culture of dissatisfaction and called us to follow Jesus’ example of radical gratitude. In Numbers 21, God used the pagan symbol of the snake on a pole to call the Hebrews to faith while teaching them not to complain about the free food. Sin is a force in the world like gravity, but we can take precautions not to fall by being grateful. God’s free gift of salvation through Christ conquered sin, so why waste time complaining? Is it rare for us to be thankful? Even the hard times are valuable for us to learn lessons from. [KH]

John Klassen Erna Friesen Angela Ruthven Andre Pekovich Erika Hannan Numbers 21: 4-9, Psalm 107: 1-3, 17-22, Ephesians 2: 4-10. John 3: 14-21 Lent IV Yes
Mar 08, 2015 Ought we to Cleanse the Temples of our Hearts?

Glenn Sawatzky’s sermon was sub-titled, “Jesus’ Disruptive Action in Jerusalem, in John, and in Us” because there are 3 ways that we can encounter the story of Jesus driving the money-changers out of the Temple:

  1. As a lectionary text for Lent: what must you clear away in your life to prepare for Easter?
  2. As part of the Gospel of John’s narrative: through the lens of the Cross, as a sign of his upcoming passion.
  3. As a historic account of what Jesus wanted to clearly demonstrate: that exploiting the poor offends God, so the church must not be complicit in perpetuating an unfair economic system.

Is it “business as usual” this Lent, or do we have the courage to account for our role in the injustices of our world?

Glenn Sawatzky Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Ed Epp Exodus 20:1-20; Psalm 19; John 2:13-25 Lent III + Abendmusik Lenten Vespers @ St. Philip's Anglican Church Yes
Mar 01, 2015 Here Be Dragons

Tim Tse spoke about the Book of Revelation as an Apocalypse in the original sense that it’s an unveiling of knowledge. Ancient mapmakers labeled unknown regions with “Here be dragons” and Satan is seen as the dragon (Rev. 12), that great ancient serpent, who is thrown down by Jesus, seen as both the Lamb and the Lion who is worthy to fulfill God’s plan (Rev. 5). The letters to the 7 churches (Rev. 1) followed the pattern of a military harangue and their number represented completeness — for all churches in all locations and in all times.  The epic battle (Rev. 19) won’t be won by an army of unarmed saints, but by the crucified and resurrected Christ. [KH]

Tim Tse Henry Neufeld Andrea Siemens Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Rev. 1:1-6 Rev. 5:5-14 Rev. 12:7-12 Rev. 21:22-22:6 Lent II Yes
Feb 22, 2015 Living with Other Creatures: A Biblical Ethic for the Treatment of Animals

Brent Siemens spoke about how the dominion over other creatures that humans have been delegated from God must reflect the care that the Almighty has, such as how he provides streams for the wild animals and grass for the cattle (Psalm 104). Deut. 22:6-7 entreats us to spare the mother hen when you harvest her young birds or eggs. In Genesis 9 after the flood, God made a covenant symbolized by the rainbow — not only with Noah and his family, but also with every living creature on Earth. Keep in mind that “the righteous know the needs of their animals” (Proverbs 12:10). [KH]

Brent Siemens Veronica Dyck J. Evan Kreider Kathi Suderman Ed Epp Gen 9:8-17 Lent I Yes Yes
Feb 15, 2015 Transfiguration

Troy Terpstra (a former resident of the Menno Simons Centre and a student at Regent College) spoke about the Transfiguration story in Mark 9:2-9. The Trinitarian God in whose image we are made is in relationship (3-in-1), as our personhood is defined by our relationship to Christ and our neighbours. There was no comfortable victory available to Jesus; he gave up his life to redeem us, so that we can see the face of God in Christ and in “the least of these.” [KH]

Troy Terpstra Tim Tse Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9 Yes
Feb 08, 2015 Peter’s Thanksgiving

Dr. Mariam Kamell (professor of New Testament studies at Regent College) joined us to speak on “Peter’s Thanksgiving” in 1 Peter 1:3-9. Mariam did her PhD in Scotland at the University of St. Andrews and has co-written a commentary on the Book of James. Echoing Jesus’ beatitudes, Peter calls us to rejoice in the salvation that our whole souls are receiving, not merely waiting for it to be revealed in the end of days. While each of us has our own trials to bear, we can faithfully anticipate our inheritance rather than demanding that ‘karma’ be balanced within our lifetimes. [KH]

Mariam Kamell Rosie Perera Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld 1Peter 1:3-9 Yes
Feb 01, 2015 Living in Community

Catherine Cooper continued the theme she started in January, by exploring 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. As whole people (body and mind) we are invited to join the Body of Christ. The metaphor of the church as a body encourages us to look at ourselves as individuals who have unique contributions to make to the community. [KH]

Catherine Cooper Kathi Suderman Ruth Enns Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf 1Sa3:1-10; Ps 139:1-6,13-18; 1Co6:12-20; Jn1:43-51 Yes
Jan 25, 2015 Jonah 3

Michelle Drewitz spoke about Jonah 3, that there is much more to the story of the prophet who ran away from God than being rescued by a whale with indigestion! On his 2nd mission, Jonah proclaimed the need for Nineveh’s repentance, and that adversarial foreign city responded with sufficient humility to change Elohim’s mind about overthrowing the great city after 40 days. May we too have compassion on our penitent enemies and extend them same grace that our merciful God has demonstrated. [KH]

Michelle Drewitz Travis Martin Veronica Dyck Kathi Suderman Henry Neufeld Yes Yes Yes
Jan 18, 2015 Being Whole People

Catherine Cooper spoke on “Being Whole People”. As part 1 of her 2-part series, she began by looking at the body as the flesh. Since the Enlightenment we’ve separated our mortal coil from the body-mind (brain) and the spirit-mind (soul), but Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 reminds us that what we do physically can either glorify God or be a sin against the temple of the Holy Spirit. In part 2 on Feb. 1st, she will continue by examining the Body of Christ as a collection of individuals living in community. [KH]

Catherine Cooper Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf 1Sa3:1-10; Ps 139:1-6,13-18; 1Co6:12-20; Jn1:43-51 Yes
Jan 11, 2015 Measuring Our Lives with Moses

Winston Pratt spoke on “Measuring Our Lives with Moses” based on Psalm 90. Moses begins with praise for God as our dwelling place, makes the point in the middle that we need a healthy fear of God’s anger at sin, and ends with a call for God to reveal his power and be merciful to us. Our lives are full of “toil and trouble, they are soon gone, and we fly away.” What are we doing with the gift of time that God has given us? [KH]

Winston Pratt Veronica Dyck Lisa-Dawn Markle Kathi Suderman Erika Hannan Psalm 90 Yes
Jan 04, 2015 Raising Cain

Henry Neufeld spoke on “Raising Cain” based on Genesis 4:1-16. After the sacrifice but before the murder, God didn’t explain why Cain’s offering wasn’t acceptable, but simply admonished him to do what is right. Are we too blinded by jealousy, envy or anger to do well in God’s eyes? As a model for merciful justice rather than “eye-for-an-eye” punishment under the Law of Moses, Cain’s banishment ended with his settlement East of Eden. If we truly live in a state of grace, can we do what the Lord requires of us: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)? [KH]

Henry Neufeld Laura Eriksson Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Edward Epp Genesis 3 New Year/Epiphany Yes
Dec 28, 2014 Carpe Diem

Photo of Andre PekovichAndre Pekovich’s 3-segment sermon on “Carpe Diem” (Latin for “Seize the Day”) was based on Ecclesiastes 9:1-12. We must all face our fear of the grave, and life is not fair, yet we are free to enjoy the days that we have. The English physicist and novelist C.P. Snow made a comparable allegory on life from the 3 laws of thermodynamics: you can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t quit the game. Andre concluded by quoting Eve Merriam’s How to Eat a Poem. [KH]

Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 Yes
Dec 21, 2014 Mary – a monologue

Potluck breakfast started at 9:30am, followed by a service of lessons and carols. Jenna Veenbaas delivered a dramatic monologue from the perspective of Mary, mother of Jesus. From hearing the prophecies of the Messiah by Micah to the annunciation by an angel as recorded in Luke, her first-person perspective really conveyed the miracle of Immanuel — God With Us. [KH]

Jenna Veenbaas Veronica Dyck Ann Marie Mossman Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Advent IV + Potluck BREAKFAST Yes Yes
Dec 14, 2014 Advent and the Book of Revelation

Rosie Perera spoke on “Patient Endurance: Advent Reflections on Waiting from the Book of Revelation” based on Rev. 6:9-11 (souls of martyrs under the altar asking how long before Lord judges the inhabitants of the earth), Rev. 10:1-7 (there will be no more delay … when the 7th angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled), and Rev. 12:1-6,13-17 (The Woman and the Dragon). Our anticipation of celebrating the birth of Jesus helps us to endure present trials while patiently waiting for the 2nd coming of Christ. [KH]

Rosie Perera Kevin Hiebert J Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Advent III Yes
Dec 07, 2014 Sing-along Handel’s Messiah

For the second Sunday of Advent, the congregation was led through a series of responsive Bible readings by Doug Medley and conducted by Andrea Siemens in a sing-along of selected arias from Handel’s Messiah. [KH]  There was no bulletin for this date.

NOTE: the audio recording posted here contains only the final aria and closing benediction.

[conducted by Andrea Siemens] Andrea Siemens Andrea Siemens Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Advent II Yes
Nov 30, 2014 Ruin, Reformation, Redemption and Restoration

Tony Tremblett spoke on “Ruin, Reformation, Redemption and Restoration” based on Micah 5:2-5 for the first Sunday of Advent. The prophet Micah was a “turbulent priest” with the courage to criticize those in authority for ignoring the down-trodden. He foretold the coming of Christ from the little town of Bethlehem (House of Bread) as one step in God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. How can we “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” in our daily lives? [KH]

Tony Tremblett Janice Kreider Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Micah 5:2 Advent I Yes Yes
Nov 23, 2014 Liturgies of the University

Thomas Bergen (photo by Rosie Perera)Thomas Bergen spoke on “Liturgies of the University” as part 3 in his sermon series. The cultural liturgies of the Mall (Sept. 28) and the Stadium (Oct. 26) demonstrate that religious and secular worship are nearly indistinguishable. The University isn’t as secular as it claims; even professional programs presume an educational purpose of human development. Campus activities shape the character of students beyond the classroom, starting with orientation weeks that teach overindulgence and discrimination. The Menno Simons Centre offers counter-cultural liturgies, such as gratis duties, common meals, and bible study groups, which build a community of UNIty in Christ and diVERSITY of backgrounds and studies. 1 John 5:21 reminds us to keep ourselves from idols. [KH]

Thomas Bergen Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Cara Bergen Erika Hannan Yes
Nov 16, 2014 On being good entrepreneurs for Jesus

Henry Krause, pastor of Langley Mennonite Fellowship, spoke “On Being Good Entrepreneurs for Jesus” based on Matthew 25:14-30. Are we ‘reluctant capitalists’ if we try to reconcile the Sermon on the Mount with the Parable of the Talents? In What Would Jesus Deconstruct?, John D. Caputo encourages us to break down our judgmental predispositions and take risks for the Kingdom of God. Beyond money, God has invested the Gospel and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us; are we being faithful servants with those talents? [KH]

Henry Krause Karl Brown J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Mt 25:14-30; Ps 123 Yes
Nov 09, 2014 Readings, Prayers and Songs for Peace

J. Evan Kreider arranged and led the Readings, Prayers and Songs for Peace.

[arr. Evan Kreider] Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Yes
Nov 02, 2014 Sealed for Kingdom Living

Brent Siemens spoke on “Sealed for Kingdom Living” from Revelations 7. John’s hears and sees different aspects of the realities of the present and the future. This was a true “apocalypse” (an unveiling, not necessarily a disaster). Between the six and the seventh seals, the 144,000 (12 x 12 x 1,000) symbolically represent the entire people of God. John hears of Jesus as the Lion of Judah but sees the Messiah as the Lamb whose sacrificial death has redeemed the multitudes from all nations. The sealed servants of God can withstand the “great pressure” of tribulation. [KH]

Brent Siemens Laura Eriksson Andrea Siemens Ruth Enns Andrea Siemens Rev. 7 All Saints/Reformation Sunday Yes
Oct 26, 2014 Liturgies of the Stadium

Thomas Bergen (photo by Rosie Perera)Thomas Bergen spoke on “Liturgies of the Stadium” as part 2 of 3 in his sermon series. Cultural institutions like the Mall (Sept. 28), the Stadium (today) and the University (Nov. 23) have intercepted humanity’s spiritual longings and use rituals that promote idolatrous versions of religious worship. A religion is more than a set of beliefs, it is more about what it makes people do, and what does for them. As we saw during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Futbol in Brasil is not just a national pastime, it looks more like a religion in that society! Liturgies capture our imagination and direct our hearts towards an object of love and worship: idolatry is about the things we love. Beyond the superficial resemblances like saints & shrines (Hall of Fame) and houses of worship (arenas and fields), sporting events reveal their religiosity in three ways:

  1. Intensity of devotion. Our culture glorifies professional spectator sports, with fans (short for fanatics) showering top talented athletes with attention and compensation. Athletes too have bought into a whatever-it-takes attitude, sacrificing their health for the game.
  2. Social cohesion. Like praise choruses in church, a chant of “GOAL” celebrates a collective triumph, and wearers of team jerseys feel an instant affinity for each other. Football sanctifies specialization and pushing over (or running past) your opponents to gain territory. As a substitute for ancient war-preparation exercises, sports are now associated with patriotism, starting with the singing of national anthems.
  3. Suspension of the normal rules of morality. Sports builds character, but what kind — only the characteristics that fit with the competitive imperative to win the game? The “killer instinct” must be nurtured to arguably psychopathic levels in order to win by ruthlessly out-competing your opponent without guilt.

Can we imitate the playfulness that God demonstrated in creation? Like sports, the rules of the game of life (love God and love your neighbour) give us the sacred bounds within which to play in our lives. How can we as Christians redeem sports and resist the idolatrous liturgies of the stadium? Play sports with joy, in the image of God. Unlike a sports celebrity, Jesus will never let us down. [KH]

Thomas Bergen Jonathan Ehling Angela Ruthven Cara Bergen Erna Friesen 1Co9:24-27; Mt 8:1-4; 1Ti4:7-10; 1Co6:919-20; Pr 8: 22-31; Yes Yes
Oct 19, 2014 The Head and The Heart

Heather Pauls Murray, in her first time public speaking at a church, told stories of the heart. When first at the Menno Simons Centre twelve years ago, she, in the insignificance of her life, was confronted by an important figure who noted that ‘this is one of many important times in your life’ and is to be lived fully.  Life at the residence reinforced that view in discussions with fellow residents on the meaning of life, consideration of agonizing questions, all of which strengthened her spirituality.  The searching for knowledge typified by university was set in its proper place by her reading of Ecclesiastes 8:16, noting the search after knowledge was fruitless. The living of life instead – dinners, talks and hikes with friends – instead determined the growth of her spiritual life.  Once married and with family (a new stage with equal value), Heather noted her spiritual life remains heavy with feeling and emotion, immune to the searching for knowledge, until suddenly the lived life illuminates Scripture.  1 Corinthians 13’s passage on Love conflicted with Heather’s understanding of knowledge as eternal.  But as she lived her married life, she came to realize how much more eternal and transforming was love, compared to knowledge, which seems to change with every stage and generation.  So too did her understanding of John 15:12-37 on sacrificial love also transform her once she had a family.   Stories of neighbours caring for parents and friends sacrificing their schooling for others reinforced this view for Heather. ‘Why should we sacrifice? is the answer of the head full of knowledge.  ‘Why should I not sacrifice?’ is the answer of the heart, informed by Scripture.  God as father now also stands out for Heather in a different way from her early life.  The un-understandable fears of her parents on a long trip to the Yukon now find meaning for Heather as she watches her own children meet life’s challenges.  Heather is always reminded that there is a time for everything – a time for study, travel and adventuring; a time for pouring everything into her marriage; and now is a time for sacrifice for her family.  At every stage, there will be a passage of scripture to illuminate itself for her that was previously hidden.  So too is it for each of us – young, old, working, retired, in school, at home, out in the world – and every stage is to be lived fully.   [AP]

Heather Pauls Murray Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Isa 45:1-7; Mt 22:15-22; 1Co 13:8-13 Yes
Oct 12, 2014 Readings, Prayers and Songs for Thanksgiving

Our worship service of scripture readings, prayers and songs for Thanksgiving was held from a text prepared by J. Evan Kreider.  A response of prayers and thanksgiving followed.

[arranged: J. Evan Kreider] J. Evan Kreider J. Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Edward Epp Thanksgiving Sunday Yes
Oct 05, 2014 A Harvest of Sour Grapes

Dr. Veronica Dyck took us from a harvest of luscious wine and sweet grapes on an Okanagan winery tour to “A Harvest of Sour Grapes” in a series of lectionary texts.  In 8th-century BCE Judah, King Ahaz and his yeoman’s army faced the professional army of King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria.  Isaiah used this invasion to deliver oracle after oracle, using images of food security (a bounty of grain, olives and grapes) to recall the people of Judah to justice under God’s hand.  In Isaiah 5:1-7, the image of a vineyard, carefully planted and lovingly tended, yields a harvest of rotten fruit.  In the last verses of the passage, the camera pulls back to reveal God the gardener, the people of Judah the bitter harvest, and the oracle of destruction was pronounced upon the vineyard for the sins of greed, seizure of land, and refusal to honour God’s covenant law. This juridical parable, like the one Nathan spoke to King David of the poor man’s lamb, condemned the rich and powerful in strong language. Veronica then turned to Matthew 21:33-46 in the passage of the owner of a vineyard and his tenants, to illustrate Jesus’ commitment to God’s justice was no less than Isaiah’s, and his language no less effective. In evading Pharisaical traps, Jesus used images of vineyards and harvests to turn the Torah’s old stories against them, reminding them that Judah’s fate under Assyria was also to be theirs under the Romans for their failure to honour the covenant of mercy and justice. Veronica then reminded us, with Psalm 80, that these intentionally-sung responses to the OT readings were meant to honour God with a changed heart, a transformed life, and that Bruggeman reminds us that though life is not pleasant even under God’s law, it is meant to be lived as it is, not as the pleasant lie we would wish it to be.  Our proper response is to allow God to transform our lives through his word, so that our fruit is not sour and true evangelical faith may be lived out in our lives. [AP]

Veronica Dyck Diane Ehling Andrea Siemens Andre Pekovich Peter Neudorf Is. 5:1-7, Ps 80, Phil 3;4-14, Matt 21:33-46 Yes
Sep 28, 2014 Liturgies of the Mall

Thomas Bergen (photo by Rosie Perera)

Thomas Bergen, in the first of three talks entitled “Liturgies of the Mall” began with a quote from American novelist David Foster Wallace, “everybody worships – the only choice you get is what you worship”. Choose a spiritual thing to worship, for everything else will eat you alive. Worship of wealth, money, power, beauty; all are default settings for being human, so our challenge is not to wait for the mountaintop experiences to turn us into active and vivid Christians, but rather to let the ordinary day-to-day processes – cultural liturgies – turn us into worshippers.  We must choose between worshiping God, or worshiping a false god, for our cultural practices will lead us to worship something – neither atheism nor secularism can truly be said to exist.  An observer with no knowledge of humans might find our religion in a shopping mall, where large groups of ‘pilgrims’ come great distances to respond to a summons advertised as “blow-out sale” in a building designed to evoke awe and lose track of time, with individual ‘chapels’ designed to respond to every need. This worship space is governed by its own liturgical calendar of sale days, with icons of worship (mannequins), acolytes (salespeople), mysteries (transubstantiation at the cash register), and mission (who seeks, shall find his desire).  Pilgrims leaving the mall go as missionaries on the Great Commission, with shopping bags advertising their beliefs in unified messages of economic success.  Both mall and church hew to a mechanism: A promise of salvation, a communal web of belonging, an invitation into a mystery, a mission to evangelize others, and a training of desire towards an ultimate object of love.  But our worshipful response in the mall is to consume things, compare ourselves to others with marketing, without wondering where this stuff comes from, in the hope of living the good life.  By contrast, our worship in the church begins with a confession of sin, an acknowledgment of the mystery of God’s love, and ends with a joyful recognition of our being made new in Jesus Christ, as His servants in mission to our neighbours and our world.  Thomas invites you to choose which is the more fulfilling for you. [AP]

Thomas Bergen Travis Martin Paul Thiessen Cara Bergen Erna Friesen 2Th 3:6-9; Ps115:1-8; Dt 12:28-32; Mt 6:19-24; Yes
Sep 21, 2014 Establish the work of our hands

Jim Neudorf speaking at PGIMFJim Neudorf invited us to respond interactively throughout his sermon, and since no personally identifiable information was revealed, the recording is posted online in its entirety. The pessimistic passage in Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 described a bleak reality, prompting comments about its sense of fatalism, resignation, despair, and hopelessness. Like the Greek myth of Sisyphus, our past employment or business efforts may feel futile: an echo of the curse of Eden — sweat and toil, dust to dust (Genesis 3:19). However, Psalm 90 starts out with a sense of hope by recognizing that God is our dwelling place throughout all generations. Walter Brueggemann’s The Message of the Psalms categories them into 3 types: orientation, disorientation and new orientation. Psalm 8 is an example of an orientation psalm (Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth). In a disorientation psalm, an uncensored complaint shows how honest our discourse can be with God in prayer. In the classic book, Managing Transitions, William Bridges describes how there is no shortcut from recognizing the ending, working through the neutral zone, and re-orienting to the new beginning. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown’s says, “We cannot selectively numb emotions; when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

Psalm 90 is a prayer to bring the spiritual into our everyday activities and give them meaning. Whether we are spinning clay pots, writing scholarly papers, or constructing buildings, we can find joy in ordinary work. Even painful experiences can be made meaningful by sharing them for others to learn from. If we reflect, and focus on our relationships, we may recognize the enduring legacies that others have left to us, whether they intended to or not. The congregation responsively read aloud the concluding verse 17, praying collectively to establish the work of our hands. [KH]

Jim Neudorf Victoria Pelletier Angela Ruthven Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Psalm 90 Yes
Sep 14, 2014 No Greater Love

Brent Siemens recounted for us the story of Joseph from Genesis 44, but from the perspective of one of Joseph’s brothers – Judah, the fourth-born – as a testament to God’s working in the lives of scandalously-imperfect people. The story began in Genesis 37 with Joseph acknowledged as favourite of his father Jacob by his favourite wife Rachel. Judah, however, led his nine other brothers in mischief as they acted on their dislike of Joseph and sold him into slavery. Brent followed Judah through Genesis 38 as he lived a life of avarice, marrying outside clan to a Canaanite woman, who bore him two sons who soon died, and generally lived apart from God. Though the main narrative followed Joseph’s blessing at the hands of God, Brent continued with Judah through Genesis 42 and 43 when the family’s time of need brought them back together. Even when Joseph restrained Simeon in Egypt the first time the family came begging for food, one senses this is no act of revenge, but a test. So when the family returned to Joseph in Egypt once again to beg for more food, Joseph’s trump card was played – he seized Benjamin through trickery, and put the family to the test of loyalty once again. Judah, however, rose to the challenge, offering to trade places with Benjamin and remain in Egypt so as to allow Benjamin to go home to his father Jacob. Joseph had recreated the original test that led to his slavery, with Benjamin, in order to find out “Does hatred, jealousy and favouritism still rule the family? Can I trust them?” Joseph found out that the brothers have indeed changed, and that Judah has assumed the mantle of leadership with responsibility. Even the language of the passage changes from “the sons of Jacob” to “Judah and his brothers” reflecting the bond that overcame the failings of their father’s favouritism. Brent ascribed four lessons to this story, noting that:

  1. God doesn’t give up on people, even when people fail him;
  2. that God brings about transformation in his own time – actively with Joseph, more passively with Judah;
  3. God desires us to be our brothers’ keeper, to actively interfere in each others’ lives to good intent; and
  4. God asks us to look to each other sacrificial love, as Judah did for Benjamin, and Jesus (himself a direct descendant of Judah) did for us.

Greater love has no-one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends. [AP]

Brent Siemens Chris Skinner Andrea Siemens Ruth Enns Edward Epp Gen 44:14-34 Yes Yes
Sep 07, 2014 Mennonite History 101

Janice Kreider (retired UBC librarian, charter member of the church, and an avid volunteer gardener at the MSC) traced Mennonite history from the Reformation to Menno Simons, and told a colourful story from her own genealogy. Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz were young people in Zürich who concluded that the Protestant churches hadn’t gone far enough by retaining infant baptism, swearing oaths, and not separating Church from State. The radical movement of Anabaptists (re-baptizers) started in Switzerland and spread throughout Europe, eventually attracting Menno Simons, a disaffected Catholic priest in Friesland (Netherlands) by 1536.

When the movement was persecuted in Switzerland, some migrated to France, where Janice’s ancestors settled in Franche-Comté. Andreas, a German-speaking Catholic a stone-mason, came to their village to work on the Lutheran church. Two unmarried daughters of the Guemann family became pregnant by Andreas: Catherine (age 29, widow & mother of 3), and Francois (age 21, single). Catherine wanted to remain an Anabaptist even though marrying a Catholic would normally cause her to be kicked out. But in the church register, an exception was made to accept her civil marriage to Andreas. If church leaders had held strictly to their doctrines, the Anabaptist lineage back to Janice’s great-great-grandparents would have been lost. Francois got married later, but died soon after immigrating to Ohio and was buried next to her sister. Real people make compromises, forgiving and accepting forgiveness. Recall the imperfect examples of how God still uses people who sin: Moses (murder), Saul (jealousy), and David (adultery).

We were inspired by these stories of Mercy (on the part of the church leaders), Faithfulness (by Catherine in her loyalty to her sister and her church), and Courage (in the young Anabaptist activists who stuck by their beliefs despite persecution). As we remember our own stories, do we see the hand of God at work? What stories will your children or friends tell about you? [KH]

Janice Kreider & pot luck Erna Friesen Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Yes
Aug 31, 2014 Forty Years

Dr. J. Evan Kreider spoke on “Forty Years” based on Exodus 3:1-15. As a fitting sequel to the story of Elijah, of whom Evan spoke two Sundays ago, Moses also had to flee to the wilderness and encountered God in a life-changing way on Mount Horeb. A blazing bush that wasn’t consumed by the fire certainly caught Moses’ attention while tending livestock! When God called Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses questioned his own credibility to lead the people. But God answered those doubts by identifying himself in a way that the people would recognize as prophetic. The Chapel of the Burning Bush inside St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt continues to protect the presumed site of that encounter. Like Moses, we may feel unqualified or an outsider, but has there been a “burning bush” moment in your life? Has an unexpected opportunity or crisis allowed you to see how things can work out for the better, spiritually? When Evan heard his cousin preach at the Mennonite centre in London, those sermons showed Evan how to reconcile an academic perspective on history and his Mennonite beliefs. Moses encountered God during his daily routine at work, and the story of him changing careers at the age of 80 proves that God can provide “burning bush” moments for any of us, including our octogenarians! Basil of Caesarea (c.330-379) wrote (abridged), “… teach me … to ask … for the right things. Steer … the vessel of my life towards Thyself … to rejoice in thy glorious and gladdening presence.” [KH]

J. Evan Kreider Paul Thiessen Erna Friesen Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Exodus 3:1-15 Yes
Aug 24, 2014 Self-improvement or God-improved

Gerald Neufeld, pastor of the Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship (MJCF) in Surrey, who last spoke to us in April 2009, returned to speak on “Self-Improvement or God-Improved” based on Jeremiah 9:23-24 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. He challenged us to think about how we invest our God-given time and energy. If we focus on perfection, what else could we be doing with the extra time, beyond what’s required? There may be virtue in pursuing excellence in what one believes is God’s calling, but if we’re always busy with worries and nit-picking, how can we build relationships and care for each other? To deny oneself and take up your cross daily means a life of sacrifice and service, even if it’s thankless. To the early Anabaptists, the Baptism of Blood represented the daily struggle against temptation. God gave us our talents to be spent blessing others, like grapes squeezed to make wine. No one can boast about their own wisdom (intelligence, education), might (physical strength, power) or wealth. Rather, God calls us to demonstrate steadfast love, justice and righteousness — love in action. Do we worry too much about how we look or how things will go? John the Baptist didn’t get caught up competing with Jesus’ ministry. As we focus on following Jesus, we’ll be improved by God. Let us live lives of joyful service, using our gifts according to God’s leading. Gerald closed with the prayer, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace. [KH]

Gerald Neufeld Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Erika Hannan Jer 9:23-24; 1Cor 1:18-31 Yes
Aug 17, 2014 God of Storms, God of Silences

Evan Kreider addressed three of the most fabulous stories about Elijah found in scripture, to show the guidance God offers for direction in our own lives. In 1 Kings 18 & 19, Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal, but also offends Queen Jezebel and flees, hiding for a symbolic 40 days on Mt. Horeb, the sister mountain to the one where Israel received the law. In answer to the Lord’s question, “What are you doing here?” Elijah answers that his faithfulness has left him alone. This, of course, is not correct – the Lord mentions another 7,000 faithful “who did not bow down to Baal” but even through windstorms, earthquakes and fire, Elijah has failed to keep faith and is to be replaced, along with Israel’s leadership. Are there times today when we are incapable of keeping up with our changing world? Do we defend institutions that refuse to change? How do we know when we should change, and when it is time to be silent, or to annoint the next generation, no matter how wrong we may think they are? How does God come to us today – is His voice in disasters? Doe we hear God’s voice in nature or in the impulses of our creative muses? Must we be in the wilderness for 40 days? When we are so distracted by our modern conveniences, how is God supposed to get through? Silence is when we set our agendas aside, still our minds and just listen. And if we are met with only more silence, let us rely on Psalm 46 and “Be still and know that I am God.” [AP]

J. Evan Kreider Janice Kreider Lisa-Dawn Markle Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf 1 Kings 19:9-18; Ps 85:8-13 Yes
Aug 10, 2014 Canada Foodgrains Bank

John Longhurst spoke about the creative relief work being done by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Farming has changed during the past century, moving from some 80 acres being tilled and harvested with horses providing power, to massive cooperatives of thousands of acres of monocrops drilled (no-til) and then harvested by machines costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although the times and methods have changed, the old problems remain, like those which prompted various ancient biblical mandates to stipulate that farmers (in an agrarian society) should (1) donate 1/10th of their crops so that the priests and the poor had provisions, (2) when harvesting, the reapers were to leave stalks and grain which could be gleaned by the poor, and (3) the Year of Jubilee sought to ensure the return of the use ofancestral land as a way to redistribute wealth. The first public talk by Jesus focused on feeding the poor. In the 1970s, Canadian farmers had bumper crops while parts of Asia and African faced starvation. Through MCC, some Mennonites creatively established a way to ship their surplus grain to needy people. Eventually the project matured. Instead of shipping Canadian grain abroad for free (thereby undercutting local foreign farmers), the Canadian grain is sold locally at market value and the proceeds are deposited with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (now independent of MCC). By now, the bank’s millions of donors include Christians from all walks of life and many countries, as well as the Canadian federal government which provides substantial aid. Although this work is no longer under MCC, it remains one of the most tremendous gifts Mennonite believers have given to the cause of world relief, one of the guiding principles taught in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. [JEK]

John Longhurst Andre Pekovich J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erna Friesen 1Ki17:7-15; Mt 25:34-36 Yes
Aug 03, 2014 The Ways of God’s Heart

Heinrich Walde is a graduate of ACTS in Langley who has worked in various missions capacities in Belgium with an interest in introducing Christian values into politics, diplomacy and the marketplace.

 

Please note the audio recording of this service is not available on-line.

Heinrich Walde Kevin Hiebert Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Edward Epp Psalm 46 Yes
Jul 27, 2014 Velázquez’s “Holy Hermits”

Derek Carr (Reader at our neighbouring church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Professor Emeritus at UBC), spoke on “The Holy Hermits” by Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (baptized June 6, 1599 – August 6, 1660), a leading painter from the Spanish Golden Age. Although most of his works were secular, “The Holy Hermits” stood for centuries as a powerful portrait of prayer and meditation in a rural setting which was far removed from the hustle of Spanish commerce and shipping to and from the New World. The painting shows St. Anthony visiting St. Paul in the desert. This St. Paul (229-342) was an Egyptian who fled to the desert to escape persecution. He reportedly lived alone for some 90 years. St. Anthony, often considered the father of the anchorites (hermits), was led to visit this Paul, partly to learn that others were expressing their faith as he had been doing, but without his knowledge–although physically alone, he was not alone in the ideal of meditating. The painting leads one to contemplate contemplation itself, extended meditation, the role of prayer, the tension that arises from wanting to be separate from the world and yet helpful to it. Derek later commented that Catholicism generally does not teach silence and meditation unless one joins specific groups devoted to those disciplines; in fact, there is virtually no silence in a Mass, in saying the rosary, or in following the Offices. [JEK]

Derek Carr Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Yes
Jul 20, 2014 Jacob’s Ladder

Ruth Enns spoke on Genesis 28.10, the first story about Jacob’s life as a fugitive. He had just deceived his father, robbed his twin brother of his precious birthright (wealth, status, blessing), and was now on the run, fearing for his life.  This deceitful young man was nevertheless repeatedly blessed by Yahweh, sometimes through dreams, sometimes through accumulated wealth (even when using questionable means), sometimes through children (though his family was totally dysfunctional). God the faithful kept offering Jacob encouragement during his life, as was true that first night away from home.  His dream depicted angels going up and down “Jacob’s ladder” while God spoke to his conscience.  This metaphor of communicating with the spiritual world has fascinated artists (including Frieda Epp, whose beautiful painting of this dream was a focal point for Henry’s introduction to the morning’s service). The composer, Arnold Schoenberg, struggled to compose an oratorio on this story, but felt it was so powerful that he needed to invent a new musical language (atonal, with no tonal center).  Writers have focused on how Jacob was transformed by this experience, some psychologists have drawn attention to the importance of our dreams.  Hymns (Nearer my God to Thee) and children’s songs (“We are climbing Jacob’s ladder”) also celebrate this singular dream.  How do we find ourselves being connected to God, to that which is spiritual?  Do those experiences touch us briefly or profoundly? [JEK]

Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Gen 28:10-19 Yes
Jul 13, 2014 I love to tell the story: where Authority and Authorship converge

Dr. Shirley Showalter (no relation to your Coordinator of Ushers and Food Group Leader) spoke to us of memoirs, both her own and of ours (written and yet-to-be-written) from Psalm 19 in a message entitled I Love to Tell the Story: Where Authority and Authorship Converge.    Paying attention is crucial, Shirley said, when one encounters those special spiritual experiences we sometimes get.  Welcome to mystery, she said, for when mysticism enters our spiritual life, our reason and argument are inadequate to process them.  Atheist Barbara Ehrenreich, in describing her mystical experiences, resonated with Shirley’s own experiences since childhood in ‘hearing the heavens pour forth speech’ in music and beauty.  God invites us to experience creation thorough his authority, and with experiences he gives to us, gives us permission to enter into these worlds again and again.  These mystical experiences imprint themselves on our memory and carry through our lives to give us valuable and alternative points of view when we live the ordinariness of life.  When writing ones own memoir, the crucial factor is to listen to the mystical voice speaking in the story, just as the painter sketches first what he wishes to paint, and then frees his art from the sketch to give us an impression of life and movement far greater than the sketch.  The memoir also frames other people’s stories, and provides access for them to bring the mystical to life in their own lives, allowing God to pour forth speech into their lives.     [AP].

Dr. Shirley Showalter Veronica Dyck J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Edward Epp Psalm 19 Yes
Jul 06, 2014 Three Groanings

Jonathan Wilson spoke on “Three Groanings” based on Romans 8:18-39. The groanings of creation range from earthquakes (Psalm 104:24-35) to the labour pains of a mother giving birth. The groanings of humankind are either cries of futility or reflect our longing for the fulfillment of our adoption as children of God, awaiting the redemption of our fragile bodies. The groanings of the Holy Spirit are wordless intercessory prayers on our behalf. The Christian church in Japan came together to respond to the triple disaster in Miyagi/Fukishima in 2011 (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear contamination) by integrating their missions, drawing on the complementary good news of the social gospel and “soul winning” personal transformation. In faith, we look forward to the redemption of all creation through Jesus Christ. Echoing the prayers of the Japanese churches, may God give our bodies the stamina to take care of the Lord’s earth and each other, and may the Holy Spirit help us to not fall back into old denomination divisions. [KH]

Jonathan Wilson Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Peter Neudorf Psalm 104:24-35; Romans 8:18-39 Yes
Jun 29, 2014 Run to Win!

In the midst of a hotly-contested World Cup 2014, Tony Tremblett focused his meditation on the sport metaphor used by Paul in 1 Cor. 9. In Paul’s day, Greek runners prepared for the various levels of games by training intensely for as many as eleven months before traveling to the game site to finish training with an acknowledged coach. Paul encouraged his new Christians in Corinth (not far from where some of the games were held) to take their spiritual lives just as seriously as if they were striving to become top athletes. If their lives are successful (if they could ‘win the race’), the honours would not be the transient cheers of the fickle crowd or the laural wreath that wilted a few days later, but that which is everlasting, eternal. Unlike a mere footrace in which only one person wins, every person serious about their faith can ultimately win. Unlike sports, in which there is always another race, our life-long ‘race’ happens only once. The writer of Hebrews imagines “a great cloud of witnesses” cheering us on, even though they are unseen by us. Tony ended by asking what we want to leave behind, at the end of our race: money, things, or a positive influence on others. [JEK]

Tony Tremblett Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld 1Cor 9:24-27 Yes
Jun 22, 2014 Worship in the Park

The Point Grey Ministerial Association collaborated on a worship service in Trimble Park during the Point Grey Fiesta.

N/A N/A N/A null N/A Service in the Park Yes
Jun 15, 2014 Created in the Image of God

Michelle Drewitz detailed for us what it is to be made in the image of God, based on Genesis 1 and 2. Contrasting Genesis with older texts, she established the origins and workings of our universe, as well as our function within in it. Genesis also names and differentiates – this allows us to establish a relationship based on function. Given that man is created in the image of God (theomorphism) it’s important to remember we are like God, but not God. No images of Yahweh are ever seen, unlike other ancient deities. In ancient worldviews, the cosmos existed to serve the gods, and so did humans. The focus is reversed in Genesis – God creates the cosmos for plants, animals and humans. Things exist for each other, not Yahweh, and Yahweh’s presence is made known to all by the human presence in the world. As we bear the image of God, so to are we called to do God’s work on the planet. Michelle indicated our dominion is to rule creation and care for it – in a dense passage worth reviewing, she indicated kingship is an act of justice (Ian Provan), but it is to be exercised in community, not as sole rulers. Our image of God arises out of our relationship with God, and we become more like God as we care for His creation and each other. [AP]

Michelle Drewitz Catherine Cooper Thomas Bergen Cara Bergen Edward Epp Gen 1:1 - 2:4 Yes
Jun 08, 2014 Lost Boy: The journeyof healing from childhood sexual abuse

Gareth Brandt (Professor of Practical Theology at CBC) brought a vivid retelling of his personal journey of healing through spoken-word poetry. Lost Boy, a common metaphor for youth damaged by the actions of others was the theme for a series of readings which offered images ranging from the dark (“wounded boy, trying to be a man”) through emotional (an unguided bulldozer going over a cliff to crash upon the ground) to the joyful (a calf leaping in blinded abandon in sunlight) that mirrored his own journey from hurt to healing through seven stages of denial, fear, pain, despair, anger, acceptance and reconciliation. Gareth insists that healing is possible in all cases, but the work involved in healing confronts people, and the easy way out – instant forgiveness – isn’t worth the words expressed by it. Noting that wounded people often become empathetic healers themselves sometimes to avoid dealing with their own hurt, Gareth nonetheless insists that healing is possible and desirable for everyone, and later shared that his own healing did involve meeting with his abuser, but that it was not a necessary condition for healing. More on Gareth’s journey is available on his blog at garethbrandt.wordpress.com. [AP]

Regrettably, the audio recording of Gareth Brandt’s talk is unusable and can’t be posted on the PGIMF web site due to electrical interference from a poor-quality cord. The CD is available for borrowing for those who wish to struggle through the awful noise, but the message will not be posted to the website. Gareth’s newest book is also available for sale.

Gareth Brandt Laura Eriksson Andrea Siemens Ruth Enns Helmut Lemke Jn 20:19-23; Ac 3:1-10; Ac 2:42-47 Pentecost Yes
Jun 01, 2014 Life-Giving Water

John Friesen contrasted an apocalyptic (dystopic) story by Veronica Roth called “Divergent”, characterized by dysfunction and murder; and a utopian story of spiritual renewal and transformation about Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman at a well in “enemy territory”. Despite her questionable history, Jesus accepted her and offered her life-giving water. John and Erna visited Cuba recently and found much of the same dystopic quality of life among the people in Cuba. Visiting Christian seminaries, they found hope for the people where the thirst for living water was palpable. In a dialogical approach to instruction, students were offered information about spiritual kingdoms, and despite challenges and trials, students offered great appreciation for the hope that Christ offers in the seminaries in Holguin and elsewhere. In contrast to the highly-segregated community of Divergent, where youth were required to select a faction or community to which they were to devote the rest of their lives under a repressive system of government, rejection brought not only ostracization, but also a challenge to live with meaning in a world which sought to remove meaning apart from the herd. “You are you, and nobody else” echoes a message that Jesus gave to the Samaritan woman, when encouraged her to – break free of your society, be transformed and live with honour and dignity regardless of the circumstances of her past. Despite new directions in movements such as the New Calvinist movement, can we treat women with any less dignity today? [AP]

John Friesen Karl Brown Lisa-Dawn Markle Ruth Enns Erna Friesen John 4:5-42 Yes
May 25, 2014 Church camp at Camp Luther

At our retreat, Gay Lynn Voth, in an impressive linking of the themes in the lectionary texts, spoke about the sources of spiritual renewal. Scripture confronts us with words we don’t hear often: sin, repent God, etc. “Novel” thinkers tend to see things in new and innovative ways. To see things rightly we need to train ourselves to resist the glamour of novelty; many things cannot and should not be made new. “There are experiences of evangelicals that are novel, rigid, idolatrous and deadly wrong,” she said. For instance, the claim that God hates certain people has not been filtered through the teachings of Jesus. We should not take one verse and build a whole theology around it; it needs to be tempered by Jesus teachings. Old Testament texts need to be looked at through Jesus teaching. Jesus said he would not leave us orphaned, he would send the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us two commandments: love God and each other. “Try living only by the rule of love,” she said. [HN]

NOTE: No audio recording of the sermon is available.

Gay Lynn Voth Diane Ehling Catherine Cooper Angela Ruthven Retreat at Camp Luther Yes
May 18, 2014 Remembering Rightly

Henry NeufeldHenry Neufeld spoke on “Remembering Rightly” based on Deut. 6:20-22. Memories are prone to subjective embellishment, distortion and repression. Over time, the recall button gets harder to push. Miroslav Volf’s The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World describes how he was subjected to repeated interrogation in Yugoslavia under Marshal Josip Tito, but has been able to push painful memories to the periphery of his life and not let them define him.

1.How should we remember unpleasant experiences? Self-righteous rage at having been hurt produces an appetite for revenge, leading victims to victimize.
2.How long should we remember them for? Vengeance and resentment, no matter how apparently justified, make forgiveness difficult.
3.Is there a Christian way of remembering? Ignoring our enemies isn’t an option — we are called to love them. In communion, we remember Christ’s sacrifice and his promise of eternal life.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commissions of South Africa (Apartheid) and Canada (Aboriginal residential schools) have provided forums to help both victims and beneficiaries of unjust systems remember past wrongs in constructive ways. Redemption of the past is part of the Christian vision of salvation. May our God, as we remember, heal our memories. [KH]

Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Yes
May 11, 2014 Going Outward as an Alternative Missional Community

Dr. Colin Godwin (President, Carey Theological College) returned to expand on his message from Matthew 28 on the historic establishment of an Anabaptist kingdom witness in the world. A current expression of such an alternative community ethic was explored through the example of Ambrosius Spittelmayr, university student and itinerant preacher whose life from new baptism in July 1527 to death by beheading in February 1528 was only too typical. Yet his witness and confession was that of a mature Christian and serves as an example to us today. In local taverns he’d encourage the discussion of the gospel and baptize willing converts. Spittelmayr’s gospel content was inseparable from his social content – did hearers share all they had willingly, walk the extra mile, and heed the word of the Lord? Menno Simons too drew sharp distinctions between conforming to the world and conforming to the gospel. This was the root of conflict resolution and peacemaking that became an Anabaptist distinctive right along with economic sharing. Out of Spittelmayr’s words, Colin asked “Each time you say our Father, what kind of personal commitment are you making to the exceptional radical generosity that characterizes the alternative missional community?” This alternative missional community is our foretaste of the coming kingdom of God, where all things are made right. Colin ended with his vision for Carey Institute, a radical coach in gospel living with with low-cost on-line courses, residence on-campus, service opportunities, and discipleship training [AP]

Dr. Colin Godwin John Friesen Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Mt 6:9-34; Ps 75:1-10 Yes
May 04, 2014 Becoming an Alternative Missional Community

Dr. Colin Godwin (President, Carey Theological College) spoke on “Becoming an Alternative Missional Community” (Part 1 of 2)” from Matt 28:16-20 and Psalm 24:1-10. As the author of Baptizing, Gathering, And Sending, Colin explored how community formation in the 16th Century Anabaptist movement started with inclusion in the church only upon baptism. Despite waves of persecution and martyrdom throughout Europe, a milkman delivering to an Anabaptist household might find himself being witnessed to. Even today, a Chinese academic hesitated to take the next step of Believer’s Baptism since it could cause problems for him upon return to his home country.

Following Christ’s commands in Matthew 28 in the right order was a central tenet of Anabaptism: first preaching & conversion, then baptism, then teaching. It all started with baptism as a public declaration that the new believer was joining a community that had a clear moral imperative to enter into a changed life. High ethical expectations attract seekers who are looking for an alternative to worldly tendencies towards violence and injustice.

We don’t need to expand God’s Kingdom, we need to invite people to enter the here-and-now Kingdom by taking opportunities to speak and live for Christ. Since the Earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24), no land should be without the Gospel. Colin challenged us to understand what our community is, what we are an alternative to, and where we are going, with these 3 questions:

1.What is your point of entry into PGIMF as a community?
2.How is your congregation alternative?
3.How is PGIMF missional?

Dr. Colin Godwin Kevin Hiebert Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Edward Epp Mt 28:16-20; Ps 24:1-10 Yes
Apr 27, 2014 Finding rest for your soul

Grant Hill (Menno Simons Centre alumni resident in 2003-2005) spoke on “Finding Rest for Your Soul” based on Matthew 11:25-30. If our burdens (worries and self-doubts) are like iron rocks, the human heart attracts rocks like a magnet (“zip, clang”). Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, invites us to look at Him, come to Him and take up his yoke. Jesus knew that his relationship with his Father meant that he had nothing to prove to the critics, even when John the Baptist openly questioned his identity as the Messiah. Like the wooden cross-bar of a yoke, Jesus offers to all that obedience to his teachings is a work instrument to help us bear our burdens more easily (at least until they are taken away at the End of the Age). The Sermon on the Mount may seem impossible to follow, but it makes sense as a tool to help us respond to the harsh realities of life. We can stop looking to worldly things for our rest and look to God as revealed by Jesus. Rather than escape through vacations or entertainment, Jesus offers us his words and the presence of the Holy Spirit as the equipment we need to find rest for our souls. Whose yoke is on your shoulders?

Grant Hill Jonathan Ehling Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Peter Neudorf Matthew 11:25-30 Annual General Meeting Yes Yes
Apr 20, 2014 Easter Readings and Hymns

We held our annual Easter Sunday morning service of worship and prayer created by J. Evan Kreider with support from Andrea Siemens and Ruth Enns.

No speaker Doug Medley Andrea Siemens Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Easter Sunday Yes Yes
Apr 13, 2014 Because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God

John Klassen spoke about the endings of two accounts of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Luke 19:43-44 ends with “your enemies will … crush you to the ground … because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” How does one recognize the time of God’s coming? John recounted 4 stories of people who left behind traces of their contact with God:

1.Clovis, King of the Franks (c. 466-511) was a warrior who converted to Christianity at the prompting of his wife, Clotilde of Burgundy. Despite his the death of his infant child shortly after baptism, Clovis shifted the source of his strength from his long hair & charisma to God’s holiness.

2.An anonymous widower in Wittislingen, Germany left behind a silver broach in the grave of his departed wife, enscribed with “May Uffila, snatched blamelessly by Death, live happily in God.”

3.An anonymous monk in the 9th century known as the “Saxon Saviour” paraphrased the Gospel of Mark into poetic local language (The Heliand) so that Germanic pagans could be converted without having to be defeated militarily by the campaigns of Charlemagne (Charles the Great).

4.A 16th century nun, Saint Teresa of Ávila, wrote in her autobiography that during a difficult journey she heard Jesus say to her, “this is how I treat ones who want to be my close friends.”

The closing words of Luke’s account and John’s form a conversation: your enemies may surround you, but the words of Jesus in John 12 were “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

John Klassen Veronica Dyck Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Edward Epp Jer 2:5-8; Lk 19:28-40; Ps 118: 1-2, 19-29; Isa 50: 4-9a; Php 2:5-11 Palm Sunday/Abendmusik at Knox United Yes
Apr 06, 2014 Psalm 130

Brent Siemens spoke on Psalm 130. He introduced us to the hymn book of Psalms as one that tells a story. It starts with chapters that prepare us to pray by centering us on the Word of God, while pointing out that our foes in the world aren’t ultimate. The middle set of many laments carries us through the ups-and-downs of life. The final set at the end lead us to say “Halleluja” (Praise the Lord). The Psalmist of 130 is in deep water, in the depths of chaos and disorder. Brent drew a parallel to the pre-creation state of threatening darkness in Genesis 1:2. Eugene Peterson suggests that this Psalm teaches us how to talk to God (not just talk about God). On our own we can’t stand before God because of sin. But the good news is that with God there is the forgiveness because of his steadfast love (the Hebrew word “chesed” meaning loving-kindness). What does it mean to wait for the Lord?

1.Wait for God to act. With sovereignty over all, the Lord promises deliverance.
2.Wait for God’s presence. David seeks the Lord’s face as should we all.
3.Wait for God to demonstrate your trust and faith. In a posture of quiet obedience, wait for Lord more patiently than a watchman for the morning.

Brent Siemens Diane Ehling Catherine Cooper Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan Ps 130 Lent V Yes
Mar 30, 2014 Faith Development

Susan Hackett spoke on stories of faith development, starting with the miracle of the man born blind whom Jesus healed on the Sabbath as told in John 9:1-41. Are we blind too? King David’s anointing in 1 Samuel 16:1-13 gave him the sight to do amazing things for God such as taking on Goliath. An alternate translation of David’s ‘theme song’ Psalm 23 could be that “surely goodness and mercy will pursue us with the tenacity the fervour of the Hound of the Baskervilles.” We are called to be Children of Light in Ephesians 5:7-14 so that we can see everything with the light of Love. A recent Daily Bread devotional linked the story of Morris Frank, the blind co-founder of the first Seeing Eye Dog school, to Titus 3:1-11 — that we are saved in order to do good. Faith development can be studied (as Susan did for her Ph.D.), but faith itself is the gift of God’s grace. It’s not too simple to say, “do good to whomever you can, whenever you can, even if it’s on the Sabbath.”

Susan Hackett Travis Martin Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Edward Epp 1Sa16:1-13; Ps 23; Eph 5:7-14; Jn 9:1-41 Lent IV/BBQ Sunday Yes Yes
Mar 23, 2014 Genesis 12:1-3

Marianna Harris (former pastor of St. Andrew’s United Church) built her talk around her visits to Palestine and on Genesis 12.1-3, in which Abram is promised his descendants will be a nation. This was a promise made some 3,000 years ago. Is it still relevant today? In Genesis 12, Abram is told that “all peoples on earth will be blessed because of you”, and one can assume that “all” means all–Palestinians, Moslems, Jews, Christians, each of whom claims Abraham as a spiritual ancestor. Yet these people fight, kill each other, steal land, all symbolized today by the 700-mile-long wall. Israelis fear ‘terrorists’, Palestinians (both Moslem and Christian) fear the Israeli military. In this environment, how in the world can these peoples think of themselves as being blessed? Was that promise only a dream? Is God’s promise of a ‘promised land’ no longer valid because Israel does not honour Yahweh and Torah? [JEK]

NOTE: the excerpt of the song at the end is “Blessed Are Those Who are Called” from the album Momentary Saints by Linnea Good.

Marianna Harris Walter Driedger J Evan Kreider J Evan Kreider Erika Hannan Gen 12:1-3 Lent III Yes
Mar 16, 2014 Journey with Jesus as a Community

Kevin Hiebert moved past the labels we’re all identified by to describe himself in terms of the paths we follow. Launching from a blog post by “Abnormal Anabaptist’ Robert Martin (found on the MennoNerds network of Anabaptist bloggers and social gladiators), Kevin focused not on his own characteristics nor his own accomplishments, but on his journey with Jesus. Kevin reminded us of Troy Terpstra’s comments the previous week on choosing a spiritual director by seeking out masters in the Christian virtues who gained that standing not through anointing, but through effort, learning and practice – ‘the fruit of craft’. Kevin gave examples of such modeling from his own life in neighbourhood friends who blessed those around them when tragedy struck, to fellow students / residents at the Menno Simons Centre, whose valuable friendship taught Kevin many important lessons not found in the curriculum at UBC. Kevin’s appreciation for poetry, choral music and the joys of rural land, arose not out of his desires to learn about them, but from the journey with others who were inspired to teach and lead, just as Peter did, despite his imperfections. Importantly, Kevin pointed out the pitfall of being a “consumer” of church as noted by Christopher Smith on Patheos.com which requires no active participation, and this lesson, taken to heart, provided the motivation for Kevin to teach others in Lithuania at a Christian college there, with the support from others in the Christian community. As God gathered the tribes of Israel to make them a people and turned them into a “demonstration plot for what God intends for all humanity and all creation (Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus – Christopher Smith), Kevin allowed God to lead him to a people who help light his path, despite his preference for ‘singing choruses off the wall’. Kevin is inspired by the example of the most recent Pope whose “examples of simplicity, austerity and humility” reflect a lifetime of “observing the values of the… gospel” rather than those of the world. Kevin ended with Robert Martin’s words:; “I aim to BE a Christian…. I am a disciple, a sojourner, a man on a mission…. I am not a Christian. But by the grace of God, I will be more like Christ every day.” So may we all. [AP]

Kevin Hiebert Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Helmut Lemke Ge 12:1-4a; Ps 121; Jn 3:1-17 Lent II Yes
Mar 09, 2014 Craftsmanship and Discipleship

Troy Terpstra (MSC resident at Regent College) deconstructed Luke’s story of the centurion from Ch 7:1-10, with words that are uncomfortable to our culture. The centurion, as one under the authority of another, was heart-ready for discipleship to Jesus’s authority, yet we find that a difficult model to follow. We are like children, with all our desires (as American anthropological philosopher Rene Gerard said) being “borrowed desire”; one child, seeing another with a toy, desires no other in the toybox, but the one in the other child’s hands. The desire is not in the toy, but in the “other” – and so for us, our own desire is not in our own goals but in the accomplishments of others. This is not unique to modern times – Shakespeare wrote often of two friends who shared everything but the one thing they were unable to share, and came to grief. So too is it biblical – Cain & Abel, Jacob and Esau, and many more desired what others had, rather than what God ordained. But rather than look upon authority with a military or hierarchical mind, Troy invited us to consider the example of the craftsman, who put himself under the authority of a master to learn a craft, and thus express this craft to God’s glory. Paralleling discipleship, craftsmanship is antithetical to modern advertising, which gives us models for our desire which benefit not ourselves, but the advertisers. God has another path – John 5:19 says “the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing”. Troy noted how this principle is expressed in art; as Troy had never discipled himself to the authority of a piano teacher, there is no virtue or joy in his playing, despite his freedom from the oppression of musical notation and practicing scales. Peacemaking is just such a craft, and one Christians are uniquely called to practice, just as we practice praying, reading scripture, and eating together. We are under authority; let us submit and rejoice in it. [AP]

In an active discussion, Troy responded to a question about peacemaking and spiritual directors with: “With the craftsmanship model, it’s [easy] to talk about it in terms of music or art, but what does it look like when we’re looking for a teacher who is a master in virtue in terms of loving their neighbour or forgiving? We can recognize that fruit and see it as a product of somebody who has ‘done their scales’ so to speak. You may say to a person, ‘I need to learn how to deal with the fact that I hold on to a lot of resentment, and you seem to be free of it!’ — that didn’t just happen, that person has developed those skills through prayer, through reading the scripture, through another person… If we can recognize forgiveness as the fruit of craft, just like the other things, then I think that’s a worthy person to approach. Naming virtues is the helpful first step for a master-apprentice relationship.” [KH]

Troy Terpstra Janice Kreider Paul Thiessen Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Lk 7:1-10; 1Co 11:1-2 Lent I Yes
Mar 02, 2014 Readings Preparing for Lent

We held our annual service to celebrate the imminence of Lent with a service created and led by J. Evan Kreider.

No speaker Evan Kreider Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Edward Epp Yes
Feb 23, 2014 CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW

The service was cancelled due to snow.

N/A Psalm 147:16-17 SNOW DAY Yes
Feb 16, 2014 Reaching for What’s Been Lost and Found and Lost Again and Again

Dr. Cheryl Pauls (President of Canadian Mennonite University) spoke on “Reaching for What’s Been Lost and Found and Lost Again and Again” from Isa 58:9b-14 and Mk 5:24-34. Is there hope of recovering a theological influence on higher education? CMU is a “church-related” university that partners with secular universities on academic content and voluntary community. CMU’s Menno Simons College funds the departments of Conflict Resolution and International Development studies at the University of Winnipeg. Peace and Social Justice are both religious virtues and increasingly shared societal values. Bringing out the best of two supporting Mennonite denominations helps CMU builds trust with other ecumenically-minded Christian churches. Likewise, ongoing interfaith dialog with Shia Muslims in Iran and efforts to reduce inequality in staff remuneration all demonstrate the engagement of Anabaptist ideals. She called us to help repair the breakdown of public dialog between the theological voice and the liberal arts by taking inspiration from the Book of Nehemiah’s long list of workers who repaired Jerusalem’s walls.

Dr. Pauls then gave a dramatic monologue from the dual perspective of a timeless woman she named Johanna – the one who encompassed the experience of the woman in Mark 5 who was healed by touching Jesus’ hem, and a characterization of her own internal experiences of reaching out to Jesus during two different worship services. Her “Narnia moment” was a twist of imagination that invited her to suspend judgment and drink deeply from the wellspring of grace and truth. She was transformed by a sense of courage, patience and a desire to imagine new openings to conversations that had seemed closed.

Is theological truth better than secular nihilism because it’s musical? Is liturgical practice a preparation for the performance of life, and at the same time, are the practices of life a preparation for the performance of worship? Have courage, trust, and patience in the multiple spheres of influence that span across the institutions of church and state. Hope can come from the words of Isaiah (58:9-11), who said, “If you do away with the yoke of oppression … you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” [KH]

Dr. Cheryl Pauls Paul Thiessen J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Isa 58:9b-14; Mk 5:24-34 Yes
Feb 09, 2014 A Temporary Peace

Janice Kreider spoke on “A Temporary Peace” from Micah 6:1-8. She explored verse 5 (which referenced the narrative of Balak and Balaam) by leading a dramatic reading of Numbers 21:31-24:25 with help from Laura, Steve, Ann Marie, Doug, Andre and Tim. When the Israelites occupied the land of the Amorites and defeated King Og of Bashan, the nearby King Balak of Moab was afraid of the “numerous horde” and sought a curse on them from Balaam — a holy man with a reputation for successful magic. Balak wouldn’t risk attacking the Israelite encampments without the advantage of a curse on them. A chuckle ensued when Andre portrayed Balaam’s donkey by holding a carrot dangling from a stick; the donkey saw the angel blocking Balaam’s path to helping Balak. After 3 rounds of sacrifices, although Balaam wasn’t an Israelite, the Holy Spirit directed him to bless the LORD’s people rather than curse them. In his 4th oracle, Balaam announced that Israel would crush a long list of surrounding lands & peoples. After that time, Israel experienced famine, leading to Ruth, a native of Moab, becoming the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Jesus. Unjust levels of inequality, rampant corruption and unrestrained violence are still gravely concerning in many parts of world. We can be thankful that we have religious freedom in Canada, but it can’t be taken for granted. We appreciate times of health, but illness can strike at any time. We are thankful for a relatively clean environment, but know that there are threats to our air and water. Janice concluded by reminding us of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:34, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” and from Proverbs 3:5-8, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” [KH]

Janice Kreider Laura Eriksson Edwin Hintz Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Mch 6:1-8; Ps15; Mt 5:1-12; Nu 24:15-16 Yes
Feb 02, 2014 Ritual vs. Service

Salt is essential for life and important for enhancing food flavours. In Old Testament times the Israelites were told “…your grain offering you shall season with salt.” (Lev. 2:13) Jesus was a travelling preacher and teacher who told stories and developed short, pithy sayings that were easily remembered: “You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world,” Evan Krieder pointed out on Sunday that some of Jesus followers would have heard these sayings many times and eventually they were written down. Jesus was critical of scribes and Pharisees who were obsessed with correct doctrine keeping rules to satisfy the Mosaic law. Jesus told people their behaviour needed to exceed the behaviour of these two groups. Salt does not create flavours; it enhances them. We need to find ways to enhance life for each other and our communities. Jesus told his followers: if you’re a disciple but don’t live like one, you’re useless.

You are the salt of the earth O people,
Salt for the Kingdom of God,
Share the flavour of life O people,
Life in the kingdom of God. (Hymn #226) [HN]

J. Evan Kreider Travis Martin Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Edward Epp Isa 58:1-12; Ps 112:1-10; 1Co2:1-16; Mt 5:13-20 Yes
Jan 26, 2014 The Good Old Days

Tony Tremblett examined discouragement in our lives, particularly when we remember how things used to be. Tony said this is true for our church lives too. Some of us, who have journeyed with God for quite a while, remember times of extreme closeness, when the call to follow was strong. Perhaps this call has faded somewhat in our congregations in recent years, with declining and aging attendance, mission changes, confusion over interpretation and a simple wearing-out of our conviction. Haggai’s prophetic words to the people of Jerusalem who were similarly discouraged at the process of rebuilding the temple after the return from exile were not ordinary. The returned exiles remembered the majesty of the First Temple with its gold and precious materials, and saw that their effort to rebuild was but a poor copy. Haggai galvanized them back to action and reminded them that they were not called to build a magnificent temple, but one suitable to their circumstances in life. Tony reminded us that this is our lot too. Haggai calls us to tell the truth as we see it, so that we can see what ought to be, and can then step into the gap and work for God, for His work is still done even in reduced circumstances. Though the people Haggai called were dissatisfied with their temple, it was sufficient for Jesus to worship in, teach in and clear of moneychangers. Let us hear Haggai’s call (“O take courage, all you people of the land; work for I am with you”), come closer to God and feel his strength with you as you do his work. [AP]

Tony Tremblett Victoria Pelletier Lisa-Dawn Markle Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Haggai 2:1-9 Dealing with Discouragement that comes when Yesterday outshines today Yes Yes Yes
Jan 19, 2014 Walking in Weakness

Jenna Veenbaas (graduate student at Regent) spoke on “Walking in Weakness”. Scripture is filled with stories of people struggling with weakness, and of those, Paul’s story is one of the most poignant. Paul founded a church in Corinth (Acts 18). Several years later, he asked Christians in Corinth to collect money to assist the starving Christians in Judea as an act of charity and also of thanksgiving for their new religion. But the church in Corinth was too riddled with its own problems (incest, immorality, pride, etc.) to think of helping others. Some men gifted in public speaking and rhetoric ridiculed Paul’s inferior speaking ability. Paul decided it was necessary to return to Corinth to restore order and perspective, but the visit went so badly for everybody that he had to leave prematurely. In a now-lost letter, Paul criticized his friends, calling for repentance. Titus then visited Corinth, with more success. This resulted in a collection of writings we now call “2 Corinthians”, and within that group is an unusual unit (chapters 10-12) addressing a new problem: men claiming super-apostolic status and wanting to be paid for their teaching (which was the typical Greek custom). Since they compared themselves to Paul, Paul reluctantly adds to their comparisons, but in a different way. Rather than playing up his own strengths and best attributes, Paul lists his weaknesses. For instance, Paul did not claim to be a hero; heroic soldiers were the first to scale city walls in battles, but Paul had himself let down over a wall in a basket, in order to escape. Rather than listing the number of churches founded, he lists all the physical suffering he endured for preaching. In response to men claiming to be super-apostles, Paul refers obliquely to being “caught up into Paradise”, without ever explaining himself. He counters that experience with his mysterious reference to his “thorn in the flesh”. Even though he had this extraordinary experience (the ‘third heaven’), he also had some sort of problem or affliction (“thorn”) that resisted repeated prayer. Even for one who was doing all he could for the Kingdom, there was to be no miracle healing, he just had to live with his ‘thorn’. Paul, like others in scripture, had to face grief and unsolvable problems. This possibly recalls Isaiah’s referring to the Messiah as “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief”. One-third of the Psalms are laments; there was apparently ample need for a repertoire of songs of that vein. Although we cannot explain them, we do often find that our troubles drive us to our knees more readily than do prosperity and good health. [JEK]

Jenna Veenbaas Catherine Cooper Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld 2Co12:1-10 Yes
Jan 12, 2014 Anabaptism: Why baptism matters even when it’s not sacremental

Timothy Tse (graduate theology student at Regent) spoke on the day’s lectionary text concerning the baptism of Jesus. Baptism originated with the ancient Jews as a symbolic cleansing from the impurities of sin. The contemporary Essenes could be baptised as often as 14 times a day, constantly repenting. John the Baptiser surely knew of them as he practiced his form of baptism at the Jordan River. Jesus asked for baptism for yet another reason, that of demonstrating his acceptance of and identity with John’s mission and calls for repentance and change. Our baptism expresses our willingness to follow Jesus. To 16th-c. Anabaptists, being rebaptised symbolized accepting Christianity as an adult, there being more committed to God than to the state. To Anabaptists, baptism has never been a sacrament (which makes insistence on specific forms of baptism seem most unfortunate). One can of course repent, believe and follow Christ as a disciple without ever being baptised. But the symbolism of baptism is possibly similar to that of marriage — public declaration of commitment, something to be followed with an on-going commitment.   [JEK]

Tim Tse Kevin Hiebert J Evan Kreider J Evan Kreider Peter Neudorf Mt 3:3-13 Yes
Jan 05, 2014 Membership Sunday

[Following on a creation care story led by worship leader Diane Ehling, that had the whole congregation involved in physically representing the life of a great tree – ed] our fellowship’s moderator, Henry Neufeld, spoke on the theme of Membership. (Unfortunately, severe snow storms elsewhere meant that not all the people wishing to join us this Sunday could return to Vancouver in time, so new members will be received next Sunday.) It is interesting to ponder what membership means to people over the centuries. Jack Suderman, in Naming the Sheep, lists more than 90 images for the church in scripture (e.g., flock, salt, aroma, light, etc.) but no single image dominates others. One other image might be added today: ‘picking up the fallen ones’. In PGIMF, membership is not all that important because we encourage anyone (member or not) to participate as fully as they can, as they feel comfortable doing. Since the New Testament mentions leadership six times–and servanthood more than 200 times, maybe “membership happens whenever we act like Jesus.” As we moved into the year’s first communion, Henry reminded us that Jesus ate with everyone, especially outsiders; everyone was expected to join in eating and drinking with him; and our eating and drinking of the elements symbolizes our act of commitment to following the teachings of Jesus. [JEK]

Henry Neufeld Diane Ehling Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Edward Epp Cl 3:10-15; 1Co 12:12-26 Yes
Dec 29, 2013 Thoughts From Robert Farrar Capon on Hospitality and Food

Between sets of hymn singing, Andre Pekovich shared his thoughts from Robert Farrar Capon about “Hospitality and Food” based on the book, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection.

Please note that the audio recording is not available for download.

Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Luke 22:7-21; Genesis 18:1-8; John 2:1-11 Yes
Dec 22, 2013 Readings and Music for Christmas

A service of Lessons and Carols for Christmas was held to tell the birth story, created by Dr. Veronica Dyck.  There was no bulletin for this service, in favour of a selection of readings.  As there was no message, no audio recording was posted.

No speaker Veronica Dyck Ann Marie Mossman Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Advent IV Yes Yes
Dec 15, 2013 Matthew & Luke: The theologians and theologies of Christmas

Thomas Bergen captured several of the infancy narratives of Jesus in a wide-ranging message that acknowledged our heart-felt appreciation of children’s plays, while extending our understanding of the gospel as an exploration of the identity of Christ – so much more than a baby in a manger. The infancy narratives fulfill many other parts of the bible, particularly OT prophecy, and recognized that the gospel-writers were not historians, but theologians who sought to give us a sense of the identity of Christ. More than his genealogy (as Matthew wrote), and more than our career (as we identify ourselves today) Jesus is identified as the summa of history and tradition in Israel through the lists of its heroes, and yet providing the necessary bridge to the rest of the world through gentiles. We are invited to identify with Jesus in countless ways: The scandalous unions throughout the bible are echoed in Jesus’ own birth to Mary, allowing him to share in the shaming meaning by which many come into the world. Parallels abound – the struggle of Joseph, Moses and Pharaoh is echoed in Joseph, Jesus and Herod; the forty days of temptation echoes the 40 years of wandering, and Jesus as Caesar supreme even over Augustus, whose own godhead was thrown into question early on. The good news of God’s peace was brought by Jesus, not Augustus, and the longevity of his message, though important, isn’t half so critical as the relationship he still offers us all today. Read about his story, but live his message with him in this Christmas season. [AP]

Thomas Bergen Erna Friesen Edwin Hintz Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Infancy narratives Advent III Yes
Dec 08, 2013 Experiencing God

John Friesen, in “Experiencing God”, examined the historical period we worship in today with its diversity, and related our experience to the Christmas season. The post-modern age we worship in is notable for its insecurity and anxiety despite great wealth and lack of want for the vast majority. Our worship darts in many different directions, from relating sustainable agriculture to the church, dreaming dreams, to reinterpreting scripture in service of new paradigms. Our thirst for God has developed a different shape in a “century without God”, one that demanded rational explanations for belief, yet now turns to feelings and emotions for validation. Diana Butler Bass’s book “Christianity after Religion” asks us to consider our estrangement from God and turn our hearts toward Him. Reasons for our estrangement may include lack of purpose in life, fear of others, guilt, resentment, striving for riches and need for approval. John suggests that our inability to sense God with us at all times may emphasize our separateness, and comments from Philip Yancey that “Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance… the pendulum will swing from one side to the other”. Thus does the faith of the mystics model for us the way in which our journey should go. A mystical experience of John’s, when young, was foundational to his trust that God would always be with him. Thus the message of Luke’s Christmas story (2:10-12) is as current today as two thousand years ago, as theologians as prominent as Barth acknowledge – because “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. [AP]

NOTE: there was no audio recording of this sermon.

John Friesen Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Isa 9:2, 6-7; Isa 11:1-10; Mt 3:1-12 Advent II / Abendmusik at Knox United
Dec 01, 2013 Sing-along Messiah

Our service featured our annual Sing-along Messiah to the accompaniment of Ruth Enns on piano and solos from Thomas Bergen, Ann Marie Mossman, Andrea Siemens, Nicole Brooks and Lisa-Dawn Markle. The event was well-attended and much enjoyed by all.

Note:  There is no recording available on-line for this service

No speaker Doug Medley Andrea Siemens Ruth Enns Edward Epp Advent I Yes
Nov 24, 2013 Eternity Sunday Readings & Prayers

A selection of readings and prayers highlighted our eternity Sunday service, created and led by J. Evan Kreider. Beginning with scripture from Psalms to Revelation, the congregation was led from the fatalism of the last light to our hope in eternal life, and from there through the writings and words of Martin Luther King, Jr, Dorothy Sölle, and Edna St. Vincent Millay to a commemoration of our friends who have gone before us: Verna Reesor, William J.J. Riediger, Bert McGee, Henry Hildebrand, Hildegard Lemke, Hedie Hintz, Hilda Sawatzky and Betty Funk; and communion was served. [AP]

Note: There was no message so no audio file of the service has been posted.

No speaker Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Henry Neufeld Eternity Sunday Yes Yes
Nov 17, 2013 My Toys! I Can’t Do My Job Without My Toys!

“My toys! I can’t do without my toys!” That was Karl Brown’s theme as he showed us the rubber duck with which his granddaughter plays. Karl said he often uses toys to illustrate concepts. When additional toys are acquired, two key questions emerge: Where am I going to put it, and how does this toy change me? (What about how much does it cost?) Toys are instruments of play and are also tools for shaping and changing people. Adults use toys to form social bonds, to understand relationships, and for decorations. Maria Montessori stressed that children playing with toys is children’s work; children will be creative with whatever you give them. Karl noted gender preferences in children selecting toys. Karl citied Logo as brand that initially emerged to encourage creativity in children and has developed into a marketing success with “scripted” and more violent toys. Karl left us with the question: How do we spread Christian values of love, of caring for on another by the toys we use? How do our grown up toys shape us? [HN]

Karl Brown Andre Pekovich Catherine Cooper Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan 2Thessalonians 3:6-13; Proverbs 6:6-11; Matthew 19:16-22 Yes
Nov 10, 2013 Put Peace Into Each Other’s Hands

Barbara Nickel spoke to us on Peace Sunday in a multifaceted message combining congregational singing and spoken litanies, inviting us to put peace into each others hands. But how? From the story of the destruction of the city and cathedral of Coventry in 1940, Barb related how the survivors, whose strength was almost at an end, created out of rubble an image of the cross, followed by a service of reconciliation. Shortly after, the people of Coventry sent money and aid to German cities ruined by Allied bombing, and much later, the rebuilding of a new church from within the hallowed ruins of the old, married the tragedy of the old with the hope of the new in one cathedral. In ruins, we can turn to God when our own strength is at an end, and ask God, grant us peace. On the smaller scale of our own personal relationships, we can also ask God to deliver us up into peace when we can see no other way to accomplish the ends we are called to. Whether relating our faith to one who does not share it, or giving our talents to the world, and then worrying about whether they are good enough to display; if we but grant God the possibility, He will send to us the comfort and support we need to know that we are valued not just for our many contributions, but for who we are in Her eyes – Her own child. [AP]

Barbara Nickel Janice Kreider Lisa-Dawn Markle Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Peace Sunday Yes
Nov 03, 2013 Genesis: Unfamiliar Territory

Rabbi Robert Daum, in an overview of Genesis, gave licence to explore the hidden meanings that we impart to the text as we read it. Ronald Hendel in his book The Book of Genesis: A Biography notes that the bible has an “afterlife” – though composed and rewritten over hundreds of years, its interpretative life is what gives it meaning and currency for all cultures. This interpretative life, though perhaps a literary conceit, allows us to seriously consider competing versions of the text of Genesis (such as that found in the Dead Seas scrolls); oral versions versus written versions; and verbatim reproduction versus performance of the text by an interpreter. As an apocalyptic text describing a time beyond our own or a neo-Platonic book describing a place very different from our world, Daum says the book reflects our human desires to return the world to an Edenic state. No literalist reading of these cryptic words – permanently relevant, perfect and complete, and divine in origin – could compete.

Thus, in Genesis we find two creation stories, plus others in Psalms and Job. Woman is created either out of an androgynous being, or out of soil. Different personal names for God are used in close proximity without explanation. In Gen 1:2 our word “the deep” (tehom) is also proper name of an ancient Mesopotamian deity (Tiamaat) in an attempt to supplant the chaos of the manifold pantheon with the one true God. So too the sun and moon as “lights” disempowers the sun-god and moon-goddess myths prevalent at the time. Ruach embodies God’s enigmatic character as wind, breath or spirit depending on context. When Jacob wrestles with an angel and is renamed Israel, the text continues to refer to him thereafter as Jacob. This is not just sloppy editing or a fetishistic attachment to tradition – it’s a deliberate ambiguity to draw us into the text and have us embrace its wideness. Name changes, contradictory versions of important moments, rewriting history in two different chapters – all these give us a sense of the richness and mystery of the book, and we must train ourselves to read carefully to get the full benefit of it. [AP]

Rabbi Robert Daum Evan Kreider Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Genesis Yes
Oct 27, 2013 Clasping of Hands

On Reformation/Heritage Sunday, Janet Boldt spoke on “Clasping of Hands” based on the lectionary texts of Joel 2:23-32, Psalm 65, 2 Timothy 4:6-8 & 16-18, and Luke 18:9-14. The scriptures tell us that God simultaneously transcends time and space, yet is very present with humanity and sustains creation. Current events make it hard to understand God’s immanence when human violence is repeated so often. The poetry of George Herbert (1633) included “Clasping of hands” which plays with the possession relationships between us and the LORD in terms of ‘I/mine’ and ‘Thee/thine’. The interlacing of humanity’s actions with those of God’s are like a dance that begs the question: what is the balance between God’s responsibilities and ours? The humble prayer of the tax collector in Luke 18 is story of reversal: re-creation and re-formation as a result of justification by faith. Across the human/divine divide, God reaches towards us in grace, yet we must reach back and grasp that gift — we cannot be justified by our own initiative. Spiritual disciplines are a way to place ourselves before God and trust in order to be transformed. In conclusion, we heard Ernie Doerksen play guitar and sing Gene MacLennan’s “Put your hand in the hand” [of the man from Galilee]. [KH]

Janet Boldt Veronica Dyck J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Jl 2:23-32; Ps 65; 2Ti 4:6-8; Lk 18:9-14 Yes Yes Yes
Oct 20, 2013 Talking and Listening to God

Dr. Peter Nosco spoke about ‘Talking and Listening to God’ based on The Parable of the Persistent Widow from Luke 18:1-8 and the importance of divinely-inspired Scripture from 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5. Prayer is talking to God, who hears and responds in one of at least 4 ways: ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Ask Again’ or ‘Wait’. When we pray for miracles, the answer may be that God’s grace should be sufficient, but we sometimes perceive this as God not listening. Are there prayers that we can expect to always be answered with a “yes” (send us the Holy Spirit, or help us resist temptation)? Like a loving parent never tires of hearing respectful questions from a child, God is pleased by our perseverance in the faith. Peter related two of his experiences of answered prayer — one for safety on a dark road in the snow, and another for being led through his career path. Don’t be afraid to ask for something small and personal, but don’t put God to the test; consider it the beginning of a dialog. Surrender to God’s will, and compare your requests to the Scripture. Reading the Scripture is an excellent way to hear what God is saying to us and to the church. [KH]

Dr. Peter Nosco Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Peter Neudorf 2Tim 3:14-4:5; Lk 18:1-18 Yes
Oct 13, 2013 Thanksgiving Readings, Hymns and Prayers

A service of readings, hymns and prayers was held on Thanksgiving.  There was no recording for this service, nor was there a bulletin provided.

No speaker Michael Medley Ann Marie Mossman Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Thanksgiving Yes
Oct 06, 2013 Three Key Words We Tend to Love or Hate

Johannes Stolz spoke on “Three Key Words We Tend to Love or Hate” based on Matthew 22:15-22 after interacting with the congregation about the differences between a Christian lecture and a sermon. The first word — trap — was illustrated in the one set by the Pharisees and the Herodians, after baiting Jesus with flattery and then posing a trick question: did he support the Roman occupation or advocate rebellion? Jesus’ wisdom was in pausing, asking a question in return, and then escaping the cage of the leading question. The second word — taxes — provided the opportunity to point out the reality that we owe governments for their services, but that duty is not to encroach on God’s domain. Johannes gave his testimony of choosing between military service and Bible school in Europe. The third word — trade — reminds us that rather than stubbornly take our own way, we are called on to trade ourselves back in to God, to whom we rightfully belong, and continue to daily follow the way of Jesus so that circumstances don’t dominate us when life is difficult. Johannes exhorted us to give homage to the one whose image we bear. [KH]

Johannes Stolz Andre Pekovich Thomas Bergen Cara Tweed Edward Epp Mt 22:15-22 World Communion Sunday. http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/FileDownload/17990/Equip-138-WR_Communion_Sunday.pdf Yes
Sep 29, 2013 The Metaphysics of Thankfulness

Thomas Bergen spoke on “The Metaphysics of Thankfulness” based on Psalm 104:1-30, 2 Corinthians 4:13-15, Psalm 69:30-36, and Romans 1:20-21. “Why does the world/universe exist?” is the age-old metaphysical question. We see how post-modern people use consumption and amusement as their ‘soother’ in response to the meaninglessness of an existence based on luck. A Christian’s response should be gratitude for the gift of creation. The Apostle Paul told us that Christ was involved in both creating and redeeming us. God gave us the gift of science to help us understand the miracle of balance in the created universe. In celebration of the church’s 27th anniversary, Thomas expressed their thankfulness to members of PGIMF for their support of the Christian community of students at the Menno Simons Centre. Sharing food and fellowship isn’t just an ethnic Mennonite cultural practice, but is also rooted in our theology. Thankfulness for our food reminds us of the gift of life that we receive daily from plants and animals. Like Neil Pasricha’s book of 1,000 Awesome Things, what simple pleasures are you grateful for? The love of the triune God is the reason that there is ‘something’ rather than ‘nothing’ … something for which we can be very thankful! [KH]

Thomas Bergen Chris Skinner Edwin Hintz Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Romans 1:20-21, 2Cor4:15, Ps 69:30, Ps 104:13-15, 19-30 Yes
Sep 22, 2013 The Geneaology of Jesus the Messiah

Tony Tremblett spoke on “The Genealogy of Jesus Christ the Messiah” from Matthew 1:1-17. While it may be tempting to dismiss the long lists of whom begat whom as mundane trivia, tracing the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham helps us to understand God’s love, judgment and mercy. In Jesus’ day, one’s pedigree was an important source of respect and privilege. Of the four mothers mentioned in the patriarchal line, three were notorious for their questionable morals and two were non-Jews. As the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and David to bless all peoples and all generations, Jesus came from mixed blood. The prophet Amos — also in Jesus’ family tree — called on Israel to remember the poor and stop taking advantage of them in contradiction to our religiosity. In the fullness of time, God’s faithfulness was revealed in Jesus to those waiting for the Messiah to come as the offspring of Abraham out of the House of David. Since then, Blood has been replaced by Faith in making us the Children of God. When we become forgotten names to our offspring, will we be remembered in the mind of God?

Tony Tremblett Catherine Cooper Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Matthew 1:1-17 Mennonite World Conf. International Day of Peace. http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/SelectDownloadFormat/43/16032 Yes
Sep 15, 2013 The idol of the Golden Calf

Henry Neufeld spoke about Exodus 32:7-14, in which Moses argued with God not to destroy the Israelites for casting an idol of a golden calf. Fear motivated them to ask for an idol — a substitute for God — when Moses was absent. The second commandment applies to us too: the bronze sculpture of the charging bull on Wall Street has been called an idol of our capitalistic culture of nearly unregulated greed. What causes us to turn away from God and pursue an idol? Henry also tackled the challenging text in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager from Luke 16:1-13. As a competitor admires the competition, the rich man recognized the cleverness of the manager in marking down the debts to make friends who could help him later. Jewish peasants were subject to taxes from the Temple, Herod and Rome that they could scarcely bear. The manager isn’t commended for cheating, but for wisely reducing the burden on the rich man’s debtors. The Pharisees are condemned by Jesus for squandering the tithes & offerings as well as the teachings of God by imposing a strictness of endless rules that God will not own [see the hymn, There’s a Wideness In God’s Mercy]. Their church, their status and the law became their golden calf — their idol. Can modern churches really justify spending millions on physical facilities and property? The shrewd manager isn’t meant to encourage dishonesty, but points out the wisdom of using worldly resources to help others. If you are untrustworthy with your worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? Henry left us with two questions:
1.Can we get God to change his mind, like Moses did?
2.The wealth we have is the good news of a new Kingdom — what are we doing with that wealth?
[KH]

Henry Neufeld Diane Ehling Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Edward Epp Ex 32:7-14, Lk 16:1-13, Ps 14 Yes
Sep 08, 2013 Go in peace

When we welcomed the MSC residents for another school year, Evan Kreider spoke about the account of Naaman’s healing. Naaman, a general in the Aramean army, had leprosy. A Hebrew slave girl, working in Naaman’s household, suggested that Naaman visit a Jewish prophet in Samaria for a cure. Rather than receiving Naaman, Elisha sends a message to Naaman to cure his affliction by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan river. Naaman feels snubbed by the prophet, refuses and prepares to return home. His slaves beg him to try it, he does, and is healed. He returns to Elisha with gifts that are refused. No conditions were placed on Naaman; Elisha did not ask him to convert. He now accepts the God of the Hebrews. Naaaman asks Elisha to forgive him for having to worship at the temple of Rimmon as part of obligations to the king of Syria. Elisha’s parting words: go in peace. How do we allow our faith to interact with a post-Christian culture? [HN]

J. Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Lisa-Dawn Markle Andre Pekovich Erika Hannan 2 Kings 5.1-19; Psalm 30; Galatians 6.1-16; Luke 10.1-11, 16-20 Student Welcome / BBQ Yes Yes
Sep 01, 2013 Cracked Cisterns

On the 27th anniversary of our Fellowship, Janice Kreider spoke on Jeremiah 2, focusing on verse 13 in which the prophet accuses Israel of relying on cracked cisterns which offered only stale water. Cisterns were often created from exposed rifts in rocks which filled when it rained but then became stagnant and eventually evaporated. Springs, on the other hand, offered the gift of pure water. Although springs were obviously preferred, cisterns were common in that arid landscape, even though they often went dry (Joseph and Jeremiah were both once held in dry cisterns.) Much of the writing attributed to Jeremiah is highly critical of the former temple, the arrogance of the religious leaders there and their belief that they were beyond God’s judgement. The Sinai laws were not followed, resulting in the poor being bereft of support. Jeremiah accused the people of having as many gods as there were villages. Jeremiah also points out the pathos of God and the creation of a new covenant, God’s love for the people despite their disobeying the old covenant. In what ways have we forsaken the ways of God? What cracked cisterns have we dug, patched up and relied upon for our national safety, especially as the G20 meets? Where are the artesian wells in our lives? [JEK]

Janice Kreider Laura Eriksson J Evan Kreider Peter Neudorf PGIMF 27th Anniversary Yes
Aug 25, 2013 Standing up Straight – Restored for God’s Kingdom

Veronica Dyck’s meditation looked at the story of Jesus teaching in the synagogue, stopping his talk to ask a severely stooped woman to come forward, healing her instantly (without her asking), and then being criticized by the ruler of the synagogue for ‘working’ on the Sabbath (Luke 13.10-19). This complaint was based on a close reading of Deuteronomy 5.13, but Jesus cleverly responded by showing how most men commonly broke the next verse (Deut. 5.14). If it is acceptable to untie an animal on the Sabbath in order to lead it to water (‘work’), why would it not be acceptable to untie a woman from 18 years of physical disability on the Sabbath? The woman really celebrated her new freedom and was not about to be silenced. This is yet another story illustrating how God’s Torah, studied every Sabbath, needs to be interpreted through the lenses of mercy and grace, rather than being viewed as harsh rules. Consequently, gatherings on the Sabbath need to find ways to lift up the lowly and reconcile them back into God’s community (the woman would have been thought unclean). What keeps us captive and prevents us from being fully part of God’s kingdom? [JEK]

Veronica Dyck Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Luke 13:10-17 Yes
Aug 18, 2013 Ghana: a Global Christian Diversity

Michael Thomas (former “Menno” resident and faithful participant at PGIMF) reviewed Paul’s metaphors (1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 2) in which all members of the body are important. Michael recently studied how and what seminarians in Ghana learn about Christianity and some of the ways they view scriptures and faith.
1.Westerners do not bother with wide swaths of the bible dealing with evil spirits, genealogies, healings, visi ons and the like, but African Christians are familiar with these worlds; therefore the bible is very much their book–all of it, especially the Old Testament.
2.African Christians understand the spirit realms (casting out spirits, etc.) far better than Westerners; the spirit world is just a real to well-educated Africans as is the physical world.
3.Believing that the foundation of all things is God, Africans do not separate the sacred from the secular as we do; “theology” (the study of God) encompasses everything in life.
4.Westerners have emphasized individualism in our ethics and increasingly in our churches, but African Christians believe that the well being of the group takes precedence over individualism. One person even commented that democracy is undercutting Christianity in the West, watering it down (letting untrained people have a significant say in what the church should teach).
Western Christianity appears to have the upper hand because of its vast financial wealth and long history of thinking, but there is so much that we can learn from the African “parts of Christ’s body”. [JEK]

Michael Thomas Karl Brown Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld 1Cor 12:12-27; Eph 2:11-22 Yes
Aug 14, 2013 Mission in Ghana

Michael Thomas (Menno resident and Regent graduate student) spoke about his faith and life integration trip to Ghana during an evening talk with a slideshow of his photographs.

Michael Thomas Kevin Hiebert N/A N/A N/A Evening potluck event Yes
Aug 11, 2013 Feeding Our Community

Dave Diewert (Regent College) spoke on the story of feeding the 5,000 (Mark 6), which recalls parallel themes with the story in Exodus of feeding many thousands in the wilderness. Jesus, recalling Ezekiel, often spoke of political and religious leaders as shepherds who neglected their sheep. Throughout the Gospel of Mark, Jesus speaks of people being abused by power, being hungry for justice, and of Jesus wanting to ‘feed’ them/satisfy their needs. In this story, various solutions were proposed: (1) the disciples advocated individualism, tantamount to the survival of the fittest in which people fend for themselves (go and buy their own food); (2) Jesus asked the disciples to purchase food for everybody (charity, handouts, one-time solution) and this was thought impractical. Finally (3) Jesus asked everybody to share with each other (the economics of mutuality). The real miracle in this story is that God was on the side of those society was hurting (the peasant Galileans were being even more severely taxed at that time than previously, while the middle and upper classes in Jerusalem were protected). Herod, Pilate, and the Temple officials (appointed by Rome’s appointees) depended on the peasants in Galilee being poor/powerless and financially oppressed. Leaders therefore feared Jesus’s and John the Baptist’s work with the poor, just like some have feared the Arab Spring, Vancouver’s downtown demonstrations, and calls for a more equitable world. [JEK]

Dave Diewert Travis Martin Lisa-Dawn Markle Titus Gregory Erika Hannan Mark 6:30-44 Ez 34:2-5 Yes
Aug 04, 2013 Habitation & Formation: Why Living in Christian Community matters

Morgan Tipton (Residence Coordinator of the Menno Simons Centre) spoke on “Habitation and Formation: Why Living in Christian Community Matters.” Morgan began with a box of brownie mix. For one ESL student at the Centre, the instructions were formidable and frightening. Another student baked brownies every Wednesday midnight, while students gathered to eat and talk. For still another student, only Grandma’s recipe sufficed. This was just brownies . . . image the variety of understandings of Christianity and community 23 students bring to the Centre each September. Scripture indicates that faith is shaped in the presence of others. Although ‘Christian community’ undoubtedly takes place at our Centre, every square inch of the earth is God’s, so community can also happen on the dance floor, in a pub or on the bleachers. The social rituals outside the classroom are more formative than are classes, labs and libraries. Community living can have its problems, but a community without tension is also not experiencing growth. [JEK]

Morgan Tipton Henry Neufeld J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Edward Epp Eccl 12:1-9; Jas 1:19-25; Mal 3:1-4 Yes
Jul 28, 2013 Consequences

Photo of Andre PekovichAndre Pekovich used the lectionary texts for the day to investigate the purpose and meaning of consequences as they apply to God’s design. In Hosea 1, Andre noted that though Hosea promises consequences to Israel, it takes more than a century for them to come about; meanwhile, his children live with unpleasant names. Meanwhile Israel, though successful historically, failed to follow God spiritually and relied on its own power and might for its own salvation, eventually leading to its own destruction. In Psalm 85, salvation seen to be not once and for all, but a continuous process of anger and separation followed by revival, sometimes years or generations between. Luke 11, though more often used to describe how we should pray, also shows how the persistence of prayer may bring about the consequences we desire. And Colossians 2 insisted that we follow our own call of the spirit when discerning the right way to follow God’s direction; heeding the instructions of others may lead to separation, anxiety and sin, and again bear consequences of separation of the Body from God. Andre noted that consequences are neither logical, rational or immediate, and sometimes they don’t appear to take place at all. Since we have no control over the consequences, we are called to live purposeful and devoted lives, as a training for when consequences that we do not expect eventually arrive to test us. [AP]

Andre Pekovich Janice Kreider Erna Friesen null Henry Neufeld Lectionary Readings Yes
Jul 21, 2013 Bergoglio

Ken Friesen provided a historical overview of the emergence and nature of two monastic orders. The election of the current Pope, Francis has brought renewed attention to the Franciscans. They are a monastic order based on the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi (1209), who was told by God to rebuild the church. Franciscans take vows of poverty, chastity and proclamation of the kingdom of God. Later Ignatius, a soldier, felt badly about conquering others and decided to do what St. Francis had done 300 years earlier start a monastic order. His group – the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) – believe reform begins with the individual; they strongly emphasize education and by 1556 had founded 73 colleges. The current pope is the first Franciscan pope in history. Ken noted that his habits point to a life of simplicity: using public transport and washing the feet of the poor including a Muslim woman. He has become a symbol of what the church should be. “I’d like a poor church,” the pope said. The issue of charity is important; Ken noted that less affluent people donate more the affluent. St. Francis was never ordained, and Ken observed that we have a pope named after a lay leader and a Mennonite church named after a Roman Catholic priest. [HN]

Ken Friesen Erna Friesen Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Yes
Jul 14, 2013 The Good News of a New King

On Bastille Day (when the French Revolution began taking steps which would ultimately dethrone Europe’s most powerful king, Louis XVI), Carl Friesen spoke on “The Good News of a New King.” Whether we like monarchies or not, the New Testament is filled with kingdom imagery. The Song of Mary focuses on the coming of a person who would be king-like. Luke tells of Jesus reading from Isaiah and then having the audacity to claim that he is ‘the one’. In the sermon on the Mount, phrases such as, “You have heard it said . . . but I say to you . . .” redefine who is/is not in the kingdom. Contemporaries were naturally aghast at the notion of one man claiming such a role–for they saw it as God’s role. Jesus, however, invited people to participate in his kingdom and in the restoration of all creation (for salvation is only one small part of the Good News). We of course prefer to think of Jesus as the Servant or Good Shepherd, rather than as a powerful king with the authority to judge us. And if we are to be judged, some Christians would prefer to be judged by faith rather than by consistency of actions. But apparently, we don’t get to chose. That said, the Good News is that if we follow his kingdom ways, our part of society can be changed, the poor can be helped, the lame can walk, and the widows will have nothing to fear. [JEK]

Carl Friesen Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Erika Hannan Lectionary Yes
Jul 07, 2013 Surpassing Righteousness

Evan Kreider’s sermon focused on the difficult and demanding passages of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. These passages are often seen as pointing to the essence of the Anabaptist understanding of the Christian way. While Luther emphasized salvation by faith and grace alone, the Anabaptists emphasized obedience. Evan developed two themes: your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, and Jesus saying “you have heard that it has been said but I say to you…” and thereby rewriting the understanding of OT teaching. Turn the other cheek… if someone takes your cloak… go the second mile… love your enemies, etc. These blunt statements all focus on how we act under pressure. The Sermon on the Mount has not a word about correct beliefs, only words about what to do. The practice of religion is about how we treat others and the Sermon on the Mount provides clear direction on this point. [HN]

J. Evan Kreider Paul Thiessen Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Edward Epp Matthew 5.38-48; Leviticus 19.1-2, 17-18; Psalm 103 Yes
Jun 30, 2013 Out of the Depths

Sharon Smith spoke on Psalm 130, “Out of the depths.” Sharon is active in Sanctuary, an organization which helps ministers co-journey with parishioners troubled by depression. One such person once said that at night it is dark–and it is also dark in his mind; when the sun comes up, it is still dark in his mind. In such times, God seems absent, and the sufferer lacks even the energy to pray. Sharon then examined Psalm 130, noting how the bible’s “wisdom literature” portrays God being with someone suffering depression, etc. The “depths” (verse 1) can be very frightening (the same word is used in Ps. 69.1-2 for the frightening chaos of the depths of the Mediterranean Seas). Once this internal chaos is externalized and we are aware of it, how can we help? We might try to recall some dark depth we once experienced, remembering how it affected our world view. The Psalmist long ago bravely illustrated how to articulate a call to God for help. Verses 3-4 remind us that God does not keep track of our wrongs/difficulties, and that we are forgiven and understood. Sharon concluded with three practical ways we might help others:
1.go with them to see the doctor/counselor (sit in the waiting room, then be available to listen if listening is desired);
2.simply listen, not judgmentally, just be there; and
3.remind each other (verses 7-8) that God never gives up on us, God will be with us, redeem us.
[JEK]

Sharon Smith Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Psalm 130 Yes
Jun 23, 2013 Ecumenical outdoor service

The Point Grey Ministerial Association collaborated on a worship service in Trimble Park during the Point Grey Fiesta.

N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Worship in the Park Yes
Jun 16, 2013 Transformation: Water Into Wine

Connie Siedler used the water into wine miracle as a basis for her message on transformation. Connie noted that there are many wedding mishap stories, including this one where the host runs out of wine. This miracle account in John 2 shows Jesus as an agent of transformation, a frequent theme in John’s gospel. In this miracle, Jesus turned something good into something better, and also turned something into something it was not. When we encounter Jesus we can’t stay as we were, said Connie, we all need change. The discussion raised questions about the intent of this miracle, and questions about what Mary expected Jesus to do. Transformation is an ongoing challenge for all; to change from something good to something better, or to change something into something it was not. [HN]

Connie Siedler Karl Brown Catherine Cooper Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld John 2:1-12 Yes
Jun 09, 2013 What’s the Story?

Dr. Bruce Hiebert spoke on the two accounts of the conversion of Saul to Paul. Stories such as these present nearly imponderable problems to careful readers, causing some people to give up altogether on Christianity, while others either ignore the discrepancies or hide behind fundamentalism. Bruce assured us that even though scripture offers very difficult problems to some minds (interested in comparing details), it also hints at solutions to those problems. Luke’s story (Acts 9) is so typical of the author, being filled with miraculous happenings and crucial conversations with people like Ananias (before going to Jerusalem for further consultations), possibly because he thought they might appeal to his audience in the Roman Empire. By contrast, Paul’s own account (Galatians 1) tells of no miracles (even though they might have given his story increased credibility to his readers) but instead portrays his faith journey as being lonely (influenced by nobody–especially nobody in Jerusalem). Instead, Paul seems to tell of the fullness of the truth dawning on him over a period of years as he carefully ponders–in isolation–Hebrew scriptures and the stories he had been hearing about Jesus.The beauty of having these two strongly differing accounts is that now, as in the first century, one of the stories just might speak more convincingly to people today, just as they possibly did centuries ago. Setting the questions of differing details aside, we know for certain that Paul somehow came to understand and believe that the teachings of Jesus were in fact correct, and from that transformation of his thinking, he was then able to further transform the teachings in radical ways, so that the good news could eventually be accepted by a non-Jewish world and begin to transform it. [JEK]

Bruce Hiebert Andre Pekovich Edwin Hintz Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Acts 9:1-20 Yes
Jun 02, 2013 The First Thing

Ken Hawkley from Anabaptist Mennonite Seminary talked about the competition between the prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Ahab and his wife Jezebel worshipped Baal who was considered the god of all gods. Following a 3 year drought Elijah is the only prophet of Yahweh left and he gives the Israelites a challenge: If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, then follow him. The people Edwin Hintz Erika Hannan Summer Coffee Service Thanks to all who have provided the coffee and goodies so far. Please sign up on the list on the bulletin board at the back to help out. were silent. Elijah sets up a competition with the prophets of Baal: each will slaughter a bull and call down fire; the god who answers is indeed God. The Baal prophets do not succeed in calling forth fire. Elijah mocks them and pours water on his altar and prays. Fire of the Lord consumes the meat, the stones and the water. Ken noted that sacrifice needs a willing heart, a heart connected to Yahweh. Elijah was connected to Yahweh; he was willing to trust God and sacrifice everything. Elijah was willing to stick his neck out. Mennonites are known for their good works, but not for sticking their necks out especially when there’s no guarantee of success. We come up with excuses. What do you want to stick your neck out for? [HN]

Ken Hawkley Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Titus Gregory Edward Epp 1Ki 18:20-39 Yes
May 26, 2013 The Adulterous Woman

The worship service at the Church Retreat at Camp Luther was enlivened by the reappearance of Jenna Veenbaas acting out the story of the woman caught in adultery from John 8:1-11. The worship service contrasted this story with the apocryphal story from Daniel 13 about the woman of Judah, Susanna who was falsely accused of adultery and condemned to death. The timely inspiration of God in the words of the young man Daniel redeemed both the life of Susanna and the honour of the community which had condemned her on false testimony. This ultimately unsatisfying story was redeemed by the vivid dramatization of the unnamed woman in John’s story, who battled loneliness and powerlessness, and when caught up in the vicissitudes of sexuality in the ancient Near East, found nothing and no-one to rely on but a mysterious stranger who refused to condemn her. “Neither do I condemn you” he said. Shall we all go forth and sin no more. [AP]

NOTE: no audio recording is available.

Jenna Veenbaas Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Titus Gregory N/A John 8 Camp Luther Retreat Yes
May 19, 2013 Sermon on the Mount

Henry Neufeld led a worship service that featured a reading of the Sermon on the Mount. Three readers (Edward, Catherine and Hannelore) read the texts from Matthew 5, 6 and 7. Dense and provocative, each line of the text gave food for thought and inspired whole sermons. A lively question period followed, indicating the message spoke clearly to each person in the room.

Various readers Henry Neufeld J Evan Kreider Peter Neudorf Mt 5-7 Pentecost Yes
May 12, 2013 Et ascendit [secundum Lucan]

Evan Kreider focused on Jesus’ ascension, noting that there are eight appearances of Jesus recorded since his resurrection. Following the resurrection the disciples were told to stay in Jerusalem; normally they would have returned to Galiliee where Jesus had done most of his teaching. Rome was important as the centre of power for the Jews (the temple) and the ruling Romans. Staying in Jerusalem implied that the teachings of Jesus were to be taken to the centre of political and religious power. The ascension account presents some challenges; some were later additions to the gospels. Evan noted that this is not surprising since at the time the belief was that Jesus came from God, returned to God and was now with God. From this time on Christians would think of God only through the “Jesus filter,” and that’s how they would read the Old Testament. Reading all of Scripture through the teachings of Jesus keeps the focus on Jesus and not on worshiping the Bible. [HN]

Evan Kreider Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Acts 1:1-11,Lk 24:44-53,Ps 47,Eph 1:15-23 Mother's Day Yes
May 05, 2013 Vote in My Life

Henry Neufeld told the story of a man who allowed modern social media to substitute for, or take over, the place of advice formerly given by friends and community. In this example, Henry noted the man turned the important decisions in his life over to a group of people he didn’t know but who “purchased shares” in an organization dedicated to telling him how to run his life. Through this lens, Henry examined Acts 12, noting Paul invested in Lydia’s life with her teaching, who returned to him her gift of hospitality – an investment in Paul’s life. The cripple at the Pool of Siloam had nobody to invest in his life, and remained crippled. Others today remain crippled with no desire to get well for they cannot imagine a life of accomplishment – their investment in their own misfortune is too high. Our church, with its committed members, invests in each others lives. Henry wonders if we could extend that by forming small groups connected by the Internet? Would we permit such an engagement in the decisions of our lives? What are our boundaries? [AP]

Henry Neufeld Karl Brown Erna Friesen J Evan Kreider Edward Epp Yes
Apr 28, 2013 Justice Judgment and God

Jim Neudorf, in a story from Nu 15 “A man caught collecting firewood on the Sabbath…” inquired of God why a man should be stoned for this? Hard stories abound in the Bible, so Jim examined God’s justice, so different from our own, and gave us four paradigms: the first – directive – inherently right or wrong behaviour (example: thou shalt not kill); the second – utilitarian – establishes the greatest benefit for the greatest number; (until the ends justify the means) ; the third – stoic – that people of virtue will always make virtuous decisions (until they don’t); and fourth – selfish – gaining the greatest personal benefit without regard to others. All are problematic, so in looking to both general and special revelation Jim noted that justice and righteousness are the same in Hebrew (shalom), and God, the moral being, holds justice essential in his work to establish goodness and holiness in the world. Lepers and bleeding women (among other broken relationships) were restored to society through justice and healing, just as the Hebrews were restored after Egypt and Babylon. The Year of Jubilee made redistribution the ultimate act of restorative justice. But justice requires judgment, the hardest of God’s qualities to determine. Not intended solely as punishment, judgment acts to refine and restore. Thus, though we cannot divine the meaning of the fatal punishment of a man caught collecting wood on the Sabbath, we may take heart from God’s essential goodness that the intention was to restore the man and the community to God’s shalom. Jim’s touchstone passage in the message from Dt 4:29-31 “If you seek the Lord your God, then there is mercy” thus calls us not to view every punishment and blessing from God as reward or punishment for proper behaviour – that old and discredited worldview denies God’s ultimate authority. Again and again, God demonstrates the evil done in the world is not done solely to punish, but to offer the hope of restoration – shalom – to all who seek the good and just God. Will we trust God’s purpose? Or our own judgment? [AP]

Jim Neudorf John Friesen Paul Thiessen Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Ps 116:1-5; Mal 3:2-5 Yes Yes Yes
Apr 21, 2013 I Will Yet Praise Him: Thirsting for God in the Desert

Julia Bowering launched from Psalm 42 and 43 to describe personal encounters with thirst, relating that to a thirst for God. Fainting in the desert on a hike from lack of water was not the encounter she desired, but remains with her as a metaphor for life without the Lord. As the hart yearns for water, so my soul pants for you. This song is for those who felt abandoned by God or overwhelmed in despair. The two psalms (laments) are so perfectly written to fit together, particularly the refrain (“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?…”) that repeats again and again, challenging God in the way that those close to death are wont to do. In a day after bombings in Boston and plots in Toronto, this lament calls out to Julia with its raw honesty. She noted the history of Jewish peoples called for frequent festivals and feasts, to which God was to be praised and thanked for his blessings, and this contrasts with the despair that so often occupied life. Though we experience God in different ways and different seasons, our call is nevertheless to maintain hope, no matter our experience, even when the silence of God’s absence presses upon us. So too is voicelessness where we soon find ourselves in dependency. Turn to prayer, Julia asks, as the Psalmist did in Psalm 43 in the hope of finding God will be there to support us. [AP]

Julia Bowering Janice Kreider Catherine Cooper Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Ps 42; Ps 43 Yes
Apr 14, 2013 Hellbound?

Kevin Miller spoke on the theme of one of his recent movies, Hellbound? Brad Jersak’s book, Her Gates will never be Shut: Hope, Hell and the New Jerusalem fascinated Kevin because of the profound questions it raised about atonement and the very nature of God. The various branches of Christianity offer a cornucopia of views about hell [hell and the concept of eternal damnation do not appear in the Old Testament until the later rabbinical writings, which are then accepted by certain writers in the New Testament (though fire has often been viewed as something which refines). All of our modern questions about the afterlife ultimately take us to the question, “Who is God?” Voltaire quipped that if God has made us in his image, we have returned the favour, and therein lies our problem. Believers claim to hope that if we abandon ourselves to God, everything will be fine. However, we also deeply wish to control our own fate if at all possible and not just rely on our chances with God, so complicated systems are created which too often are effectively fear-based control systems. Jewish religious leaders certainly did this with their myriad of regulations which had to be followed–or else, and some of this type of thinking has also crept into various expressions of Christianity over the centuries. As contemporary believers contemplate the mysteries of the afterlife, we of course examine our scriptures. Unfortunately, we do this only in ways (through cultural glasses) which let us understand some things and cause us to overlook others. Kevin asked what kind of images of God do our selective assumptions about God create within us? Do we actually believe that God the Judge will do what is right, or do we want to offer advice? Kevin reminded us that if we think about it seriously, we will realize that we have no choice in this matter. He encouraged us to remember that “God is not the enemy, God is love, so take a second look at God”. [JEK]

Kevin Miller Veronica Dyck J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Jn 21:1-19; Rev 5:11-14; Mt 15:1-9; Ps 30 Potluck Barbeque Yes
Apr 07, 2013 God the Great and Powerful

How big is the universe? How long is forever? Kevin Hiebert asked these questions in reflecting on the verses from Revelation: “To him be glory forever and ever.” The universe is likely over 13.8 billion years old. Kevin stressed the need to be awe filled, especially when looking at the size of the universe and the expanse of creation. God is in a state of eternal “now,” noting that at the speed of light time ceases to flow. God is the “now,” implied in the Hebrew name of God. God is the ‘I was, I am, I will be.’ C.S. Lewis said there is something of God that flows into us, we need to exalt the God who made us and also retain a sense of awe in creation. [HN]

Kevin Hiebert Andre Pekovich Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Edward Epp Psalm 118; Acts 5:27-32; Revelation 1:4-8 Yes
Mar 31, 2013 Songs and Texts for Easter

We celebrated Easter Sunday with a service of scripture readings from the Passion Story, songs and prayers led by Evan Kreider and in song by Ann Marie Neudorf. Many thanks to everyone who brought such wonderful food to share at our Easter Sunday Potluck Breakfast before the service.

There was no bulletin this Sunday.  There was no recording made of the service.

No speaker Evan Kreider Ann Marie Mossman Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Easter Yes Yes
Mar 24, 2013 Jesus, Messiah

On Palm Sunday, Carl Friesen told of growing up in a world of daily rituals–milking cows, shower, breakfast, devotions, school. There were also the weekly rituals of church (without fail) and even rituals for dressing. Our rituals informed us as to who we were and were not. The same was true in New Testament times. Luke 9.51- tells of Jesus “turning toward Jerusalem” for the ritual of Passover. According to that ritual, countless pilgrims gathered along the way, singing and chanting while walking. But this ancient ritual took a new turn when a group of followers gathered around Jesus while he symbolically rode into Jerusalem on a colt. Before long, a song that was part of the singing ritual was updated from “Blessed is he” to “Blessed is the king that comes in the name of the Lord.” Then another ritual was upended: Yes, they went to the temple as pilgrims, but Jesus then occupied the temple (it is generally agreed that this mistake lead directly to his death before the end of the festival). Throughout the coming week’s Passion story, one will encounter terror, abuse of power, lies, show trials, dreams, and unholy alliances. Some hopeful Jews saw Jesus as exemplifying the story of salvation (sharing food, washing feet, riding the colt) but all hopes are dashed when he is killed. This whole story is absolutely insane … unless there is an Easter morning. [JEK]

Carl Friesen Veronica Dyck Edwin Hintz Ruth Enns Helmut Lemke Ph 2:1-13; Lk 23:1-49; Lk 19:28-40 Palm Sunday Yes
Mar 17, 2013 Mary got It Right – Again!

Janice Kreider spoke about the visit of Jesus to the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha as described in John 12. Martha serves dinner and Mary brings a jar of expensive aromatic oils, massages Jesus’ feet, and wipes them with her hair. Feet, in arid conditions, likely had a bad smell. The fragrance of the oils fills the house. Fragrance is mentioned often in the Old Testament (incense, offerings, etc.) and rarely in the New Testament. Judas wonders why the oil wasn’t sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Jesus supports Mary, who is part of the disciples group, and silences Judas. Mary got it right; her behaviour, though possibly viewed as outrageous, is cast in a positive light. Paul continues on the aromatic theme in his epistle: “Because of Christ we give off a sweet fragrance….” [HN]

Janice Kreider Don Teichroeb Veronica Dyck Michael Thomas Erika Hannan Jn 12:1-8; Isa 43:16:21; Ps 130; 2Cor 2:14-16 Fifth Sunday of Lent Yes
Mar 10, 2013 Ruth

Jenna Veenbass returned to PGIMF and used her oratorical gifts in a dramatic monologue of the story of Ruth. Aliens, famine, the difficult life for single women, poverty, are issues in this account. Due to a famine in the Bethlehem area a Jewish family moved to a neighbouring country to find work. The husband died, leaving Naomi and her sons. One of the sons married Ruth, a Moabite. Both sons died and only Ruth and Naomi were left. Naomi decides to return to her Jewish homeland and Ruth insists on accompanying her. They arrive in Bethlehem during the barley harvest and being poor Ruth goes to gather grain left from the harvest in a field belonging to Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi. Naomi instructs Ruth to make herself appealing to Boaz; they marry and becomes the grandmother to Jesse, David’s ancestor. Jenna demonstrated that not every sermon needs a theological exposition; story telling with a dramatic effect brings the story to life. Thanks Jenna, for saying things well. [HN]

Jenna Veenbaas Travis Martin Catherine Cooper Cara Tweed Erna Friesen John 8 Fourth Sunday of Lent Yes
Mar 03, 2013 Unexpected: The Warnings and The Welcome

On the Third Sunday of Lent, Laura Eriksson spoke on “Unexpected Warnings and Welcomes”. “Warnings are good for us, even if we do not like them and ignore them.” At that point, the fire alarm went off and the entire assembly laughed as the vast majority of us proceeded to ignore it (I counted 15 teachers/former teachers/principals present!) Even so, warnings do make us aware of possible dangers. Lent reminds us to ‘come’, ‘return’, ‘repent’ (it is time for a spiritual tuneup), ‘return to the God whose ways are higher than our ways’. We are surrounded with warnings daily (email, food, poisons, environment, scams) but the most difficult to accept is the warning to repent. The story in Luke 13, telling of people trying to interpret the latest news and why others were killed by a falling building or Roman soldiers. They were surprised when Jesus told them they should repent from judging others and instead, repent so that they are ready, should an unexpected calamity fall on them. The next story in Luke told of the gardener giving the fig tree one more in year which to produce fruit, and how he was going to invest time and nutrients so that the tree could benefit for this one last chance to be fruitful. Laura concluded with a thought I hope to ponder this coming week: “True repentance is not so much about looking at the past and saying ‘sorry’, but it is about looking to the future and saying ‘Wow!'” [JEK]

Laura Eriksson Veronica Dyck J Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Isa 55:1-9; Ps 63:1-8; 1Cor 10:1-13; Lk 13:1-9 Third Sunday of Lent Yes
Feb 24, 2013 Fear, Faith & Firepower

Karl Brown spoke on “Fear, Faith, and Firepower”. Fear concerns fear for our lives and for all that is precious to us. Faith is that the Lord our God will protect us and keep us true to him. Firepower results from our fear and our lack of faith causing us to take things into our own hands and try to protect ourselves with weapons since we do not really believe in God’s protection. Our lectionary reading (Genesis 15.1) told of Abram trusting God so much that he referred to God as his “shield”. Luke 13:31- told of even the Pharisees warning Jesus that Herod would kill him, but Jesus had faith that this would not happen until God willed it. “The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid” (Psalm 27) has been a source of strength to many Christians. But not all. North Americans (Americans far more than Canadians) believe that guns are our ultimate protection, not God, even though more Americans have died from domestic gun violence than from all of the wars Americans ever fought anywhere! This faulty assumption has led to a plethora of private handguns in the States, with there being c. 71 guns for every 100 living Americans of any age. When we think of gun control, we seldom think of keeping guns away from Olympic champions or spouses, we think of “the bad guys”. Gun control is ultimately about self control. For Christians, particularly of our persuasion, our faith is in God and in God’s will for us and for our lives. [JEK]

Karl Brown Janice Kreider Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Henry Neufeld GE 15:1-12, 17-18; Ps 27; Lk 13:31-35 Second Sunday of Lent Yes Yes
Feb 17, 2013 Three Pillars of Faith for Lent

On the first Sunday of the Lenten season, Evan Kreider focused on the three pillars which the Jewish people believed important: giving, praying and fasting. The Talmud describes three levels of giving: the highest is to give people work, the next, to give anonymously to the poor, and the last level is giving to the poor and letting others know what you’ve done. When giving alms don’t blow your own horn – do it in secrecy. Giving to charity and then telling others – that’s your reward. Pray in secret. The key is not to draw attention to oneself; offer prayers on behalf of all. When fasting, don’t look dismal and don’t make a display of it. Jesus assumes all believers will pray, give, and fast. In Jesus day money given to the temple would be redistributed to the poor. Today money going to churches might well go to hiring staff and/or buildings, not the poor. Are the three pillars – giving, praying and fasting valid today? Most of us are unfamiliar with personal fasting; it might well be an area needing further exploration. Whatever we do in these areas, do it in a way that will benefit others and God. [HN]

Evan Kreider Laura Eriksson Edwin Hintz Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Jl 2:1-2, 12-17; Mt6:1-6, 16-21; Ps 51:1-17; First Sunday of Lent Yes
Feb 10, 2013 Slavery of Death

Thomas Bergen (resident of Menno and graduate student at Regent) spoke on “the Slavery of Death”. As the church reflected on Christ’s death, they initially associated sin with death and the devil, concluding that Jesus came to destroy the devil and all that is evil (Christus victor). St Paul talks of the body (soma), of Jesus becoming embodied, and also wrote about sary, or of our very “flesh” being equated with a sinful nature. Romans speaks of our inner conflict over good and evil, and Hebrews 2.14-16 of our fear of death. Many older people can recall how death and dying used to be completely integrated into family life–families caring for their elders at home, their homes eventually serving as a hospice where people died and remained in state, families even gathering to dig the grave near the church. With the professionalization of death (hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, cremation, cemeteries far removed from daily city life), death is being viewed very differently. Is this because we are no longer enslaved to death, or is it because we fear death, its messiness and finality. Is our modern society actually more fearful of death than earlier generations, leading us into another type of slavery of fear? What can deliver us from this growing fear? Thomas promised a sequel to this talk, leaving us with a final thought: “He who does not fear death is outside the tyranny of the devil.” [JEK]

Thomas Bergen Cara Tweed J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Helmut Lemke Hebrews 2:14-15 Yes
Feb 03, 2013 The Woman at the Well

There are various ways of communicating the messages of the Bible: words, art, music, reading, dramatization, etc. Jenna Veenbass used her gifts as a dramatist to bring life to the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Using a few simple props and a dramatic voice, Jenna described a marginalized lady widowed several times and childless. Jenna brought out many emotions within this story of a widow from a Samaritan village. This woman was surprised when, in the heat of the noonday sun with few people around, she sees a Jewish man sitting at the well where she comes to get water. Fully aware of the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans – Jews do not associate with Samaritans – she is astonished when he asks her for a drink of water. She complies and then he starts talking about “living water” and she wants to know where she can get it. Listening to him gives her energy (living water?) and she runs to her village and tells of the prophet who has come. [HN]

Jenna Veenbaas Andre Pekovich Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Rosemary Bell Edward Epp John 4:1-42 Yes
Jan 27, 2013 Lectionary texts; Harmonious Justice: The Good News as the Fulfillment of Torah”

Michael Thomas (Menno resident and Regent graduate student) spoke on the Lectionary’s stories about people hearing ‘the word of God’ and how they responded. In the early centuries of the Jewish monarchy, the Torah was consistently granted pride of place among all the other writings which would eventually comprise our Old Testament. But as time passed, the concerns of the Torah would be eclipsed by those expressed in the Psalms and by prophets. With the advent of St Paul’s writings, followed several decades later by the compilations of the Gospel stories, the importance of Torah declined still farther. Today, we are hard-pressed even to suffer through a reading of much of the Torah–its language, practices, assumptions and decrees now seem to have no application to our philosophy of life, and although we pay lip service to the Torah, we seldom know how its ideas should apply to our lives. By contrast, the story in Nehemiah 8 tells of a people hearing the Torah read aloud for the first time and being thrilled and enthralled as the words were relayed to them. Another story, that in Luke 4.14-, tells of Jesus returning home and reading the assigned text from Isaiah. That particular discussion time went so badly that the congregation decided to kill the speaker (ah, the good ol’ days). St Augustine once distinguished between “the Book of Scripture [revelation]” and “the Book of Nature [logic, later science]”. Psalm 19, in another of our Lectionary readings, presents poetry which seeks to reconcile the Book of Scripture with the Book of Nature. The initial verses claim that all of nature declares the glories of God, and the next set of verses review the importance of explicit laws and precepts found in Scripture. We need to learn to view Torah–and all of Scripture–as an ongoing living tradition rather than as the sole well from which the water of life can be retrieved. To Jesus’s countrymen, this notion was worthy of death, but Jesus nevertheless persisted in finding new ways to apply the most general principles of Torah and the prophets to modern life, as did St Paul . . . as must we. [JEK]

Michael Thomas Rosie Perera J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Neh 8:1-10; Ps 19; 1 Cor 12:12-31a; Lk 4:14-21 Yes Yes Yes
Jan 20, 2013 Salvation, Discipleship & Discipline among Early Anabaptists

To remind us of our Anabaptist origins, John Klassen spoke on salvation, discipleship and discipline among our Swiss founders. In Germany Martin Luther challenged the state/religious authorities and provided an alternative, thereby giving common people hope. Luther’s actions and his focus on grace set the stage for much of what happened in Europe. Andreas Karlstadt, a priest and contemporary of Luther, said mass in German rather than Latin, married, and sought to remove infant baptism. The Schleitheim confession was a document that outlined the separation of Swiss Anabaptists from the world: a courageous model of faith which reflected the struggle for faith and purity. A small group of lay people met in Zurich, examined scripture, baptized each other, and shared communion – outrageous and illegal behaviour. Anabaptists emerged out of this gathering; a people who are saved and who need to work out their salvation. John noted that today we have church/state separation, and don’t face dilemmas like those in 1520’s. He suggested that we practice inclusive behaviour as modeled by Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. The questions for us continue: how do we live differently than the dominant society? How do we retain a Christian identity? How do we identify essentials? [HN]

John Klassen Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Titus Gregory Erika Hannan 1Cor12:1-11; Mt 5:1-10; Mic 6:6-8 World Fellowship Sunday Yes
Jan 13, 2013 Translation, Interpretation, and Salvation

Derek Carr (Reader at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, thespian, and former Head of UBC’s Department of French, Italian, and Hispanic Studies) spoke most engagingly on “Translation, Interpretation, and Salvation”. When attending Mass at Holy Guardian Angel in Barcelona last summer, Derek noticed that the Mass, translated into Catalan, retained certain linguistic traditions which had been lost in the English translation used in his church (just a block north of our Centre). As a specialist in translating and in Linguistic Studies, he knew all too well the pitfalls facing any translator–pitfalls which face each and every scholar involved in translating the bibles on which we rely. Translation often involves a rewriting of an original text, the including of one’s views on the text. Translations can even suppress or reinterpret. For example, there is general disagreement concerning what the angels reportedly declared to the shepherds (Luke): “goodwill toward men”, “peace to his people on earth”, “and on earth peace to men whom the Lord esteems” (Catalan), “peace to men he loves” (French). Some translators prefer to adhere to the sense of the Latin, some try to mirror current thinking in their denominations, some try to speak to the unchurched, and some like to mirror societal concerns such as inclusive language (mandated at UBC). These possibilities baffle any who are not linguists, and they also even baffle linguists. However, the general sense of our texts is more or less on-track, for which we can give thanks. [JEK]

Derek Carr Evan Kreider Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Edward Epp Isa 40:1-5, 9-11; Ps 104 :1-4, 24-30; Ti 2:11-14, 3:4-7; Lk 3:15-16, 21-22 Yes
Jan 06, 2013 A Service of Welcome

Henry Neufeld on Membership Sunday describes church membership, then Edward and Frieda Epp describe their journey to PGIMF, and are welcomed by the church Moderator, Don Teichroeb.

Henry Neufeld Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Isa 60:1-6; Mt 2:1-12 Membership Sunday Yes
Dec 30, 2012 Spiritual Genetics

Photo of Andre PekovichAndre Pekovich (PGIMF Coordinator) spoke on the final Sunday of 2012. Some recent studies consider the complex role played by bacteria and parasites in our bodies, acknowledging that we do not digest food unassisted, but that this is accomplished only with significant help from bacteria foreign to our bodies. Some people are even tinkering with bacteria as a means of addressing modern diseases. While we generally share certain types of bacteria, each of us has our own unique blend known as “flora” and our different bodies respond to varying flora in differing ways. In a similar fashion, Christianity cannot be viewed simplisticly as a monolith in which all Christians share a common set of beliefs and practices. Even the earliest churches described in Acts had seriously opposed schools of thought already flourishing within 20 years of the Sermon on the Mount. Today’s church follows suit, including beliefs and practices as differing as those espoused by Orthodoxy, Catholicism, nationalistic fundamentalism, modern Anabaptism, and mysticism, to say nothing of the ever-evolving group of Christians unable to find a home in any church. Stories about Rahab, Abram, Hosea and Gomer remind us that individuals, whose lives were frequently thought to be of little consequence, nevertheless made useful contributions as part of the host of minute ‘flora’ which somehow helped to keep the faith movement evolving. St Paul’s culture and ours differ drasticly, and his most impassioned battles with other believers concerned topics of little interest to us today. To keep the faith movement alive, like Paul, we need to find ways to help it continue evolving as culture evolves. For starters, we should continue rereading and rethinking the canon (which already offers a variety of expressions and faiths) and reading well beyond the canon, for although secular politicians over the ages (e.g., Constantine, Charles V, etc.) attempted to force unity of faith upon all the churches in their kingdoms, this goal was never put into practice except on paper; the church never has been a monolith. To be truly alive, Christ’s church requires a tremendous variety of flora. [JEK]

Andre Pekovich Kevin Hiebert J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Ge 14:17-20; Joshua 2; Hosea 3:1-2 Yes
Dec 23, 2012 Service of readings and hymns

This week a service of worship and singing for 4th Advent and Christmas Eve was held. The accompanying text was created by Evan Kreider.

There was no bulletin this week.  There was no audio recording made this week.

 

 

No speaker Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf 4th Advent Yes Yes
Dec 16, 2012 Gift Guide

Connie Siedler focused on the gifts of Christmas, noting that the fragrant soaps, candy, and toys will eventually all be gone, regifted or returned. Advent is a season when God reminds us that his gift of Jesus has a lasting quality; a gift with no expiry date. Connie identified several gifts from God: the life Jesus brings us, the light shining in the darkness, Jesus as our brother, and the gift of grace and truth. Grace is a gift we don’t deserve, she said. In the Advent season we need to reflect on what we have and to give gifts that endure. In the response time it was noted that some of us listened to CBC en route to church and heard former PGIMF attendee Aiden Enns promote a “buy nothing Christmas” in response the rampant consumerism of the season. The stress of trying buy the “right” gift is a major frustration. The gifts we should be giving are gifts that last: love, joy, gratitude, our time and…. [HN]

Connie Siedler Laura Eriksson Michael Thomas Rosemary Bell Helmut Lemke John 1:1-18 3rd Advent Yes
Dec 09, 2012 Between the Advents: Fearful, joyful, Hopeful Expectation

Michael Thomas, on the 2nd Sunday of Advent, noted Handel’s inspiration for The Messiah that we sang the previous Sunday drew from Zechariah, and that this Sunday’s texts are equal to it in inspiration. Beginning by asking ‘What is Advent?’, Michael first noted that as a child, it was equivalent to Christmas, also called “‘Ad-vend’… when merchandisers religiously remind everyone how few shopping days remain til Xmas”. A sacred time that spans both religious tradition and secular culture, it is a time of fearful, joyful and expectant longing for a king who came and is to come again. From the Greek parousia (coming alongside with) Michael noted the day’s text from Malachi 2:17-3:5 appears to give a sunny reassurance to the people of God. Put in its proper context, though, it is reassuring only in terms a prisoner in the dock might find comforting, because the rest of the book presents the Lord’s case against Israel. Malachi’s people see no need to repent and are incredulous that the Lord should take issue with them – “to purify the sons of Levi.” Though the Lord’s messenger is already in his temple, all is not right with the world, so we, like Malachi’s Israel, are to hope and pray for all to be made right. Luke 1:68-79 sings the same hymn of joy at deliverance, telling the story of the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth at the advent of their baby, John the Baptist. After Zechariah’s nine months of silence, the song of joy that explodes from his lips at the birth is a testament to might acts of salvation (soteria) that the Lord performs to all out of his steadfast love and faithfulness (chesed) to his people. Philippians 3:1-11 gives yet more guidance as to how we are to live in the time between Advents – the already-but-not-yet – in confidence that the Lord is still at work in our lives long after Jesus’ time. We too are called to reflect his perfection in our lives in this season of waiting. [AP]

Michael Thomas Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Lk 1:68-79; 3:1-6; Php 1:3-11; Mal 2:17-3:5; Ps 126 2nd Advent Yes
Dec 02, 2012 Sing-along Messiah

On Dec. 2, 2012, excerpts from Handel’s Messiah were sung by the congregation.

There was no bulletin published today.  There was no audio recording made of the service today.

 

No speaker J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Edward Epp 1st Advent Yes
Nov 25, 2012 Christ the King

Launching from John 18:33-37, J. Evan Kreider elaborated on the story of Jesus taken before Pilate, having being seized, physically punished, and interrogated all night. Jesus was then asked by Pilate to explain why the Jewish temple society considered him such a threat to the peace and good order of the Empire. Jesus was actually in no danger from the Jewish leadership, as they were proscribed from killing him, notwithstanding the belief of Christians throughout history. But the stakes were raised in front of Pilate, and perhaps Pilate at last began to understand when he asked “So you are then a king?” (Jn 18:37). Though Jesus declared his kingdom was one ‘not of this world’, he insisted it existed, anchored in ultimate truth; but Pilate remained ignorant. Are we any wiser? Though always alluded to in prayers, in psalms, and in parables, this kingdom remains unexplained. This story of Jesus’ confrontation with Pilate, so dense in allusion, anchors our modern understanding of Christ as King. This feast day of Christ the King Sunday (held on Eternity Sunday) is relatively recent, having been instituted by Pope Pius XI in response to Mussolini’s republicanism, to remind the faithful their allegiance remained to God, not to earthly rulers. It sits on the same day as the older holy day of Totensonntag, a day to commemorate the dead in Lutheran and some Anabaptist traditions. For some of us of republican bent (particularly in North America) the image of a King over us remains troubling, given the past malfeasance of earthly rulers. Nevertheless, Pius XI’s clarion “Christ’s peace for Christ’s kingdom” was effective, and leaves us with questions we should continue to ask ourselves today. “Who do you say that I am?” is not just for Pilate but for us. Is Jesus King to us? A gentle shepherd? What is our fervent hope when we pray “Thy kingdom come”? [AP]

Evan Kreider Diane Ehling Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Dan 7:9-10;, 13-14; Ps 93; Rev 1:4b-8; Jn 18:33-37 Eternity Sunday Yes Yes
Nov 18, 2012 Justice and the Liturgy of Human Rights

Carl Friesen (graduate student at Regent College) spoke on “Justice and the Liturgy of Human Rights”. In an earlier talk, Carl showed that humans are primarily loving, relational beings and not simply coldly rational creatures. However, over the past three or more centuries, certain philosophers’ arguments have profoundly shaped societal thinking in ways which have led even today’s Christians to think unquestioningly about the supremacy of human rights, rights which concern the individual rather than that which is best for a relational (let alone loving) community. Hobbes, for example, argued that science/mechanics/math can explain everything rationally, that people are fundamentally individuals (not social beings) concerned with self preservation. Thinking like this leads to the assumptions of the “unalienable rights” of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” embedded by Thomas Jefferson so prominently in the US constitution. John Stuart Mill emphasized that individual freedom is the greatest good, and this assumption is too often unquestioned by today’s media, courts and societal thinking. This leads our society into a fragmented view of justice in which we focus more on an individual’s goods and rights than on all of us fostering love and helpful societal relationships. If pushed too far, individual rights will not provide a foundation for the common good. For example, forests, lakes and meadows were formerly preserved as a cooperative endeavour for the common good, but now we are subdividing them into tiny parcels purchased by individuals who have the ‘right’ to do with their resources as they wish, even if it will lead to harming society as a whole. Believing in absolute rights also leads to the type of polarization, and the lack of compromise now so prevalent in US politics. What to do? Carl suggested that Christians can begin to change society through hospitality, “inordinate” hospitality, a selfless serving of others, a loving of the unloveable. We still have rights (and do not want our hospitality to be exploited), but if we practice the level of hospitality outlined in Matthew 25, rather than individual rights first and foremost, we can become more Christ-like. [JEK]

Carl Friesen Karl Brown Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Ge 2:18-23; Mt 25:31-46; 2Co 5:16-20 Yes
Nov 11, 2012 Peace, peace, but there is no peace

Rosie Perera’s September 2nd justification for an Anabaptist peace perspective entrenched Mt. 5:9 (“Blessed are the peacemakers….”) as a spiritual touchstone. Last (Peace) Sunday, Rosie offered five scriptural responses to five common arguments for war, drawn from a book by Dr. Gary Staats entitled Biblical Non-resistance from a Historic Anabaptist Perspective. The first argument offers Deuteronomic commands to Israel to war against its neighbours until they are destroyed. These were designed by God to combat idolatry. Our NT instruction is to extend God’s love to all people including our enemies, so OT instructions to Israel cannot be used by the NT church to support warfare. The second response is to incomplete instructions in Romans 13 to covet the commands of governing authorities that God has constituted to rule over us. Rosie notes the longer passage conveys the context of Paul’s instructions to the righteous believer: “Do not repay evil for evil”, “Do not avenge yourself, leave wrath for God” and “Love your neighbour as yourself”. Even in those Roman times, Paul instructed believers not to bear Nero’s sword against neighbours, but instead to stand apart. In the third response, John 2 records Christ’s cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. John suggests Jesus’ answer to defilement was violent. Rosie offered context, noting the moneychangers and the temple authorities had arranged a halachic barrier to pilgrims’ worship, which Jesus corrected. Rosie noted the text isn’t explicit, as it appears Jesus used the scourge only on the animals. Ultimately, Rosie says we are called to leave Messianic acts (Ps 69:9) like this in God’s hands and not to perform them ourselves. Fourth, Luke 22 calls the disciples to take swords on the road with them. In context, Rosie noted that all Jesus’ other instructions call the disciples to be armed for spiritual battle, not physical. Last, the rider of Revelation 19 with a sword in his mouth was addressed in its proper context as merely the herald of the King of the whole world – a lamb triumphant and matted with its own blood – not a pale rider to subdue all people and evil in the world by force. A lively discussion on the proper discernment of judgment and textual criticism followed. [AP]

Rosie Perera Evan Kreider Catherine Cooper Cara Tweed Erna Friesen Dt 7:1-2; 20:1-4, 10-18; Lk 22:35-8; Jn 2:13-7; Ro 13:1-2; RV 19:11-21 Yes
Nov 04, 2012 Toward an Inclusive Theology of Love

Don Teichroeb spoke on the topic, “Toward an Inclusive Theology of Love”. Many people, including some nonbelievers, agree that ‘God is love’, but many of us place limitations on this love, questioning how even God can love people when they purposely sin (a harsh Old Testament stance in which I was unfortunately raised). In Matthew 12.28-34, Jesus identified the two greatest commandments: (1) love God, and (2) love others as yourself–ideas articulated in Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19. As intellectuals in the Jewish tradition grappled with the Law and the prophets, some attempted to distil the essence of scriptures to a few pithy statements (as Jesus did in our morning’s lectionary reading), while other intellectuals preferred to delve into thousands of explanatory comments. The writer of 1 John 4 gives an extensive explanation, telling how the God of love exercises love in concrete ways. This can lead us to understand that, if God is love and love is kind, therefore God is kind, etc. Don also cited the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son (stories which preceded our morning’s reading) illustrate God’s love toward us even when everybody else assumes that we are hopelessly lost. “We love, because God loves us, all of us.” [JEK]

Don Teichroeb Henry Neufeld Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Edward Epp Mk 10:46-52 Yes
Oct 28, 2012 Lectionary texts

Janice Kreider spoke about the courage of the early Anabaptists in leaving the established churches; they were convinced their new faith was the right one. Using the Martyr’s Mirror, as well as a summary of Anabaptist convictions developed at a Pasadena conference in 2006 and the writings of theologian Norman Kraus, Janice focused on the core convictions of Anabaptists. Kraus identified them as:
1.Christo-centric spirituality. The focus was not only on Jesus sacrificial death, but on Jesus whole life as a model for us.
2.Obedience. Discipleship, following Jesus’ teachings.
3.The beatitudes. A guide for dealing radically with various situations.
4.Non-violent confrontation. The church should be in dynamic tension with society; there should be an energetic confrontation.
5.Gemeinnutzlichkeit (loosely translated as beneficial to the community). The early Anabaptists formed strong local communities.
The accounts of martyrdom in the Martyr’s Mirror end in 1671; an updated supplement is being planned. Janice left us with two questions: who are the martyrs today? How strong are our beliefs? [HN]

Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Erna Friesen Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Heb 7:23-28; Ps 34; Mt 5:1-16 Yes Yes Yes
Oct 21, 2012 Women in Ministry: Pouring Out

Rose Mewhort told her life story. In the 1970s, at the age of 21 and as a nun in The Sisters of Charity, Rose took up residence with other nuns in their convent, which later (1986) became The Menno Simons Centre. She worshiped daily in the convent’s Our Lady’s Chapel or attended Mass at other locations, depending on the availability of priests. Her order was known for its excellence in teaching, which is why the sisters in Halifax had been invited to Vancouver by the city’s Archbishop. Rose, however, became a nurse, learning the profession from the Sisters of Providence at their St Paul’s Hospital,. These non-unionized sisters were required to work 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week. During her decades with the Sisters of Charity, thinking within Catholicism began to change, allowing nuns to don modest modern dress and interact more freely with society. At the convent (where we now worship), they like to operate on the community rather than hierarchical model. But as medical procedures increasingly came into conflict with her theological upbringing, Rose found herself severely conflicted within, and finally needed to explore leaving her semi-cloistered community. One night, she had a dream in which she knew how to paint, so she decided to test the dream, bought paints, studied painting and became an accomplished artist (several of her works were displayed in the chapel). After 25 years of nursing, she simply burned out (at 12 hours a day without fail). She undertook a Ph.D., defending her thesis entitled “Spirituality and Aging”, of which we definitely want to hear more. She tried to return to the Sisters of Charity, but their keen sense of orderliness did not mesh with her more free personality. She was eventually invited to Mayne Island where she met Canada’s first woman to be ordained as a Catholic priest. (Technically, all such priests are excommunicated, yet many remain faithful to Catholicism, though not espousing its archaic rulings concerning gender roles, etc.) Rose was called by friends to receive ordination as a Catholic deacon, which she accepted (and was of course then excommunicated). Catholic priests like Rose wish to work with people who are excluded from the Catholic Church, yet wish to identify with the best in Catholicism rather than switch to Protestantism. Rose’s talk was heartening, inspiring, and practical. Over the years, PGIMF has had its bouts with officialdom, particularly when officials appear to be acting with presumed apostolic authority. To some of us, Rose’s story was easily understood. [JEK]

Rose Mewhort Rosie Perera Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Andre Pekovich Peter Neudorf Ps 104; 1-9, 24, 35c; Mic 6:6-8; Ac 2:14-21 Yes
Oct 14, 2012 Gifted for Ministry

On October 14th, we enjoyed having Santosh Ninan return to speak on the Epistle reading from the day’s Lectionary, Romans 12:1-8. Modern popular books trumpet the news that each of us has special gifts to enjoy, cultivate and use. It’s a pity these authors ignore Paul’s writing which said the same thing, but much better, centuries ago. In various letters, Paul took the trouble to identify special gifts individuals might have but may have possibly ignored or downplayed, even though they could be important for the ultimate success of their house church. But before we try identifying what we may suspect are our gifts, Paul advises us to be transformed most unusually, sort of like becoming a ‘living sacrifice’ to God and each other (Paul never shied away from strong statements). Unlike today’s popular writers advising on acquiring money through the bond market, stocks or real estate, Paul asks that if we have a gift for acquiring money, we have to use this gift to help others (and he possibly meant “other believers”). We should not just work hard to get ahead at a job and acquire status, but any status or influence which is given to us is useful to God only if used to help others, and so it goes. Each gift that Paul identified was important only if it was put to use in ways which benefited the little house church. Santosh cited Mary’s total acquiescence to the angel’s ridiculous request. Mary did not understand the request (for obvious reasons), even after asking for clarification, but she sensed that her new role was not that to serve her family but, in some yet unknown way, to serve God. Paul’s letter to the house church at Rome always assumed that serving God was not something done in isolation, but it had to happen as a member of a thriving faith community. [JEK]

Santosh Ninan Andre Pekovich Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Romans 12:1-8 Yes
Oct 07, 2012 Service of readings, prayers and hymns

J. Evan Kreider led us in a service of readings, prayers and songs for Thanksgiving (recording available to borrow on CD, not available for download).

Evan Kreider Erika Hannan Thanksgiving Yes
Sep 30, 2012 Spiritual Seasons – Autumn

Connie Siedler presented the fourth and final meditation on the year’s seasons and how they might be seen as reflecting aspects of our spiritual life. Strangely, many (well, those who forget about November) think of fall as their favourite season of the year. They remember that early fall is still warm without being sweltering, they admire its colours and think of fall as a season for concluding things, especially gardens. Esther 7 (lectionary reading) tells of the beautiful Jewish queen saving her people from Haman’s evil order that all the Jews be killed. She and her maidens prepared for her unannounced and dangerous the visit to the king by fasting and praying for days. Their sowing/fasting/praying bore fruit. When reflecting on how we can store our spiritual harvests, Connie told of the ‘encouragement box’ in which she saves all the notes of encouragement she receives over the years. Then when facing a ‘winter’ in her life, she can turn to her encouragement box for sustenance. Finally, Connie reminded us that scripture frequently mentions giving thanks, and encourages us to give thanks. This is a form part of our national celebration of fall, and it should also become a continual part of our thinking and living. [JEK]

Connie Siedler Henry Neufeld J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Edward Epp Ps 19:7-14; Esther 7:1-10; 9:20-22 PGIMF 26th Anniversary Yes
Sep 23, 2012 Cravings that are at war within you

On the first day of fall, Kevin Hiebert spoke on ideas from James 3-4, the epistle reading from the day’s lectionary. James, in his customary straight-forward manner, asked his readers to face the problems of “greed, envy and wrath” (three of the seven deadly sins) and “lying, cheating and stealing”. His point is that these bad behaviours are driven by our selfish desires, and that by contrast, God asks that we bless others through acts of selfless respect. Dan Ariely (Duke University) recently published an interesting book entitled, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How we lie to everyone — especially ourselves (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012). Kevin drew on the book’s examples and tentative conclusions to give illustrations of people being urged by greed (for example) to tell lies in the hope of gaining personal benefit. One interesting phrase in James (3.17) is that we should be “willing to yield”. This is ideally the art of politics, as well as the art of living in community, in family, at work. Being “willing to yield” is the opposite of trying to get ahead at all costs. James reminds us to scrutinize our actions and motives. How do others see us (especially when they find out the truth) and how does God see us? [JEK]

Kevin Hiebert Veronica Dyck Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Psalm 1, Jeremiah 11:18-20, James 3:13-4:3,7-8a Yes
Sep 16, 2012 Opening our eyes to care about others

Inspirational speaker Mike Yankoski, celebrating the end of his sabbatical at PGIMF with his first talk in some months, launched from Matthew 25:31-46 and other passages to encourage everyone to respond to those who are in need in our midst. Re-translating the Hebrew word “shalom” (often translated as peace) as “flourishing” or “fulfillment” better suits a calling to be actively fulfilling God’s cause, not passively awaiting it. Awakened by a message on the Good Samaritan and by his own actions, Mike and a friend sought to live as a homeless people for some months and found himself confronted with the question “Who is my neighbour?” From church campuses to Union Station, Mike found that few other people were engaged in the question either, not when Mike was dishevelled, dirty, smelly and hungry. Where does one go to the bathroom when awoken at 3:00 am from food-borne illness and all public buildings are closed? Mike found some churches responded with enormous compassion and kindness, but others didn’t. Recognizing that we “compartmentalize” the situations we find ourselves in simply to survive emotionally, Mike nevertheless called us to be shalom-makers, being willing to be more uncomfortable in our lives. Noting Jesus too led a ministry of interruptions, Mike found that children often responded most appropriately, stopping to engage, and recognizing need in their simply ways. Mike told stories of people who cared more about others, and found their own lives becoming full, in the tradition of Mark 8:35-36 “…whoever seeks to lose his life will save it” and invited everyone to allow the gospel to turn their lives upside down. Be willing to be interrupted, to engage, to be a “shalom-maker” and to have an impact. [AP]

Mike Yankoski Rosie Perera Michael Thomas Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen 1Sa 2:1-8; Mt25:31-46; Php 2:1-4 Yes
Sep 09, 2012 Tales from the Lectionary

Walter Bergen used Psalm 146 primarily to encourage the students attending UBC, Regent College, and Emily Carr to consider received wisdom, whether from university, from society or from church, with the same skepticism they should reserve for all things not borne of God. Noting that the received wisdom of 25 years ago said that an Asian should not be the pastor of a Mennonite congregation, Walter said that his own pastor, April Yamasaki, is now the longest-serving pastor in the BC conference. Encouraging boldness and commitment in the listeners, Walter noted one must take a step forward toward God, and only then can God guide your path. Those who never try, God cannot help. Walter retold the story of the founding of the Menno Simons Centre, of the five couples who committed financially to be missionaries to the academic world of UBC in a new way. Since then, hundreds have benefitted from their wisdom and boldness, and now the world is full of Christian leaders who are as capable of rigorous inquiry as any academic. Walter noted that the students, an intelligent and committed group, would be called on to be leaders in their careers, communities and churches within a decade.

Walter encouraged them to consider how they wanted to be used by God right now, because their training has already begun, and there is little time. Their path may be bumpy, they will be insulted or taken advantage of, but they are not to give up their morals or ideals. By example, Walter reviewed the challenges faced by Charles Darwin in his discovery of bioturbation, revolutionizing soil science in the process. He also pointed out how received wisdom and self aggrandizement can be so malicious it can cost peoples lives, in the story of Trofim Lysenko, a Soviet scientist whose work was so worthless it caused terrible famine, but whose attachment to the Soviet “princes” made his influence so powerful, even over genuine far-seeing biologists like Sergei Vavilov, one whose identification of genetic centres of origin assured the world’s genetic diversity, and founded the largest seed bank in the world in St Petersburg. Walter encourage the students not to put their trust in princes, but in God, for only the truth remains when people of imagination and conviction stand firm, and permit God to guide them. [AP].

Walter Bergen Andre Pekovich Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Pro 22:1-9, 22-23; Ps 125 Student Welcome BBQ Yes Yes
Sep 02, 2012 Culture, Character and Liturgy: Rethinking What it Means to be Human

“I am what I love, not what I think.” Carl Friesen challenged the Descartes dictum “I think therefore I am” which gave birth to the idea that humans are primarily thinking beings. Carl said our identity is not tied to what we think; conscious rational thought is only a tiny bit of our brain’s work. We are primarily lovers – what we desire, what we long for defines who we are. Jesus calls this the “heart.” Ultimate love constitutes our identity; that which we desire above all else. What we love and desire shapes rather than our thoughts. The Pharisees ultimate love of themselves resulted in Jesus criticism of them in Matthew 23. Our ultimate love is shaped by our practices and habits. The practices (liturgies) of our society help define who we are. Carl sees a shopping mall as a space with liturgies that are formative for us. The mall is a secular cathedral that seeks to reconfigure space and time. Malls often have few windows, a labyrinth of hallways, and no clocks. Malls follow a liturgical calendar: Valentines day, mother’s day, father’s day, etc. Malls have icons – mannequins – and they have outreach – advertising. Malls shape our desires to be consumers. In contrast Jesus, in the beatitudes, calls us to be transformed, to become a certain kind of people. Being made in the image of God is a calling, not a statement of fact. Our mission is to live in the image of God; to refuse to buy into the culture, to be transformed. [HN]

Carl Friesen Kevin Hiebert Andre Pekovich Titus Gregory Edward Epp Ge 1:26-31; Mt 5:1-12; Gal 5:19-26 Yes
Aug 26, 2012 Biblical Non-Resistance from the Historic Anabaptist Perspective

Rosie Perera’s message on biblical non-resistance from an anabaptist perspective was entitled “Blessed are the Peacemakers” and took its inspiration from a book of the same name by Garry Staats of Winebrenner Seminary in Ohio. This huge topic addressed the biblical background of Anabaptist non-resistance, and Rosie found herself challenged as an outsider to understand and explain the roots and results of non-resistance, a difficult undertaking from her American roots which often reflect an entirely different and more violent ethic. As a peace church, we are often challenged by others to defend what we believe and Rosie noted that peacemaking does not preclude activism – Jesus, after all, did cleanse the temple with a scourge. MLK said “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” Further, “a nonviolent spirit…grows out of a spirit of love…” Rosie drew from the Sermon on the Mount, showing that as the kingdom of God draws near, the peacemakers are blessed. The main teaching found in Mt. 5:38-48 identifies retaliation as a seed of evil, and love for enemies a blessing; here Jesus is establishing a new ethic for the kingdom of heaven. Deuteronomy’s advice to respond to injustice and evil with identical behaviour was a dead end, and Rosie notes this change in ethics is an example of progressive revelation as seen in Hebrews 1 “Though God in past days spoke to us in many different ways… Now he has spoken to us through his Son…”. Capital punishment was not the rule in the OT either – Proverbs 22:24 and Lamentations 3:30 all encourage turning the cheek and leaving vengeance for the Lord. Jesus lived what he taught, restraining Peter from more violence at the taking of Jesus, and more so in his betrayal by Judas, meeting violence with a dish of bread and milk. Paul’s grace too picks up the theme of non-resistance, encouraging all Christians to submit to authority. This was a hard teaching for the church and earthly rulers to learn, culminating in Augustine’s call for Just War to redress the invitation of Romans 13. Anabaptists refused to learn this lesson, and often paid for with their lives. Pray that the world of peace and love may be established so that other do not have to pay this price either. [AP]

Rosie Perera Janice Kreider J Evan Kreider J Evan Kreider Helmut Lemke Mt 5:1-12, 38-48, 26:47-56; Lk 9:51-55; Ro 12:17-13:10; 1Pe2:18-25 Yes
Aug 19, 2012 The Ghost of Religion

Karl Brown gave a message he entitled “The Ghost of Religion” by asking “whose responsibility is it to identify wisdom? Folly? Morality?” Karl insists religion is responsible for all questions such as these: can we have religion without faith? Can we have faith without religion? Depending on your point of view – as Deist (following a watchmaker God); a Theist (knowing a personal God) or Atheist (knowing no God), Karl showed how one’s outlook and traditions are tempered by these beliefs. Logic helps, but only so far. Drawing distinctions between beliefs, religion, moral authority, and faith, Karl encouraged the group to have faith and be religious, to follow God and demonstrate the kindness and tenderness that comes from God, and to avoid the religion without faith that occupies so many other on our planet. Karl asks that during times of trouble, that we not allow our faith, our church, our community to be far from us when we are in need. [AP]

Karl Brown Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Prov 9:1-18; Eph 5:15-21 Yes
Aug 12, 2012 Don’t Look Up – Open Your Wallets!

Bruce Hiebert focused on the seemingly unusual relationship between the ascension of Jesus and economics. He noted some discrepancies between Luke’s gospel account and the description of the ascension in Acts. In Luke’s gospel account Jesus ascends on the day of his resurrection; in Acts he ascends 40 days later. Bruce maintained that “ascension” is a metaphor and could mean many things. The choice of Bethany reflects Luke’s anti-wealth thinking; it’s the site many of Jesus comments about the poor; “the poor you will always have with you.” The discussion raised questions about how we know truth, how we interpret events, and how we interpret scripture. How do we know when to take scripture literally, when metaphorically, and when humanly constructed? Discernment is important since truth can come to us in many forms. The upside down kingdom is here, let’s worship God and live it. [HN]

Bruce Hiebert Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Ps 2; Ac 1:6-12; Lk 24:50-53; Mk 16:19-20 Yes
Aug 05, 2012 Spiritual Seasons – Summer

Connie Siedler (graduate student at Regent College and former resident of The Menno Simons Centre) continued her series on the seasons of life. Earlier talks looked at “winter” and “summer”, following the idea expressed in Ecclesiastes 3, “For everything there is a season”, and this talk focused on “summer”. We are drawn to summer’s long days, summer’s warmth, holidays, fresh fruits and vegetables. In our emotional lives we also experience our “seasons”, including “summers” of light/ happiness, joy, and refreshment. Part of this is hopefully engendered by our belonging to the Kingdom of God, a kingdom we only need to receive and enter (though once there, plenty of opportunities for work will arise, just as in summer). People who garden often enjoy sharing produce with others; the Kingdom asks that we give to others from our abundance (“freely you have received, freely give”). Summers also come with dangers–drought, floods–and the “summers” of our lives can also experience danger. When things are going well, we tend to think less often of God, or consumerism robs from that which we ought to be sharing with others. As we go through life, we should learn to recognize and experience each of our life’s “seasons”, seeing how each transforms us within the Kingdom. [JEK]

Connie Siedler Andre Pekovich J Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Luke 17:20-21; Mt. 5:1-10 Yes
Jul 29, 2012 David & Bathsheba

Evan focused on the well-known David and Bathsheba story. David saw what he should not have seen – Bathsheba, the wife of a trusted warrior, bathing on a nearby rooftop. David makes the mistake of pursuing her when he already had a harem. Bathsheba had no choice but to obey the king. Eventually David arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle and he marries Bathsheba who becomes the queen mother; a position with a lot of power. This story represents a turning point in David’s reign as family tragedies increase. David, by his example, taught his sons to rape, deceive, and abuse power. He violated the instruction in Deuteronomy: “Your king must not acquire many wives.” This is a sad story of a poet, king, and musician – an OT poster boy and a man after God’s heart – whose downfall began with a serious abuse of power. He should have followed the golden rule: do not do unto others things that you do not want them to do to you. [HN].

J. Evan Kreider Rosie Perera Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Erika Hannan 2 Sam. 11:1-13 Yes
Jul 22, 2012 In the Ring, Wrestling

John Neufeld spoke on “A Room To Remember.” Memories are important and unavoidable; there is no escaping from remembering. Jacob, the night before he met this brother from whom he had been estranged for 20 years, had a time of remembering. Here we had a middle aged man struggling and wrestling with his past. Memories can be a gift or a burden, sometimes an unwelcome burden. Psalm 42 reminds us of David’s unpleasant memories: “My tears have been my food day and night.” We deal with our past by adoring it, abhorring it, or ignoring it. In recalling difficult times, we remember how we maneuvered through those times. Remembering our hurts from the past might require forgiveness or forbearance; forbearance is a form of spiritual generosity. “Enter the room called remember, and reflect on the good and the not so good,” John said. (HN)

John Neufeld Paul Thiessen Paul Thiessen Michael Thomas Erna Friesen Gen. 32, Ps.42 & 103 Yes
Jul 15, 2012 Mennonite Church Canada Convention

Church members joined the worship service at the Mennonite Church Canada convention.

N/A N/A N/A N/A MC Canada Annual Convention Yes
Jul 08, 2012 Dies irae (Day of Wrath) – the medieval chant

Ruth Enns spoke on the medieval chant, Dies irae, a poem (sequence) written c. 1250 by Thomas Celano. Dies irae was quickly appreciated, being added to the Mass for the Dead (removed only in the late 1960s as a result of the reforms of Vatican II). The poet imagines a fearful day of judgment when “all” will be revealed. The poet then asks, “What am I going to do”, if even the righteous have reason to be fearful? Hope is offered when we are reminded that Mary Magdalene and the ‘thief on the cross’ were forgiven, so perhaps there is hope for the likes of me. The poem’s final lines ask that “Gentle Jesus, grant them rest”, praying for the souls of all humanity. It is interesting to see that, as Christendom faded from the cultures of the 18th and 19th centuries, interest in this particular medieval chant went viral, with Europe’s leading composers quoting from its opening melody when writing for orchestras, the piano, the organ, and of course for choirs. The chant soon became a signature tune denoting death to all who heard it. Even contemporary culture, as it explores Armageddon, the end of the universe, etc., has been intrigued by this theme–whereas the present church tends to downplay a final judgment, eternal torment, and even the notion of there being a hell. [JEK]

Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Edward Epp Yes
Jul 01, 2012 Spiritual Seasons – Spring

Connie Siedler pursued the theme of spiritual seasons by focusing on the transition from winter to spring. Winter conveys images of darkness and of waiting for spring; a season when death turns to life. Spiritual life also experiences seasons; the winter of our dormancy includes waiting for spring; and spring requires planting and cleaning. Connie noted there is a time for everything, and suggested spring is a time to venture into new territory. Spring is a time to listen to God, to look at our lives and to see what needs renewal. Try new things and sow generously. Spring cleaning is important; we need to get rid of the dust and clutter of winter. Connie suggested the practice of examen (part of Ignation spirituality) where we reflect on the events of our day, asking questions about when we felt most alive, when we were stressed or distracted, and when we felt closest to God. Spring reminds us that death does not have the last word. [HN]

Connie Siedler Kevin Hiebert Michael Thomas Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Isa. 35 Yes
Jun 24, 2012 Worship in the Park

The Point Grey Ministerial Association collaborated on a worship service in Trimble Park during the Point Grey Fiesta.  There was no bulletin or audio recording.

N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Point Grey Fiesta Yes
Jun 17, 2012 Hope in Times of Blindness

Michael Thomas spoke on “Hope in a Time of Blindness”

Michael Thomas Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld 1Sa15:34-16:13; Ps 20; 2Co5:6-17; Mark 4:26-34 Yes
Jun 10, 2012 Loneliness

Henry Neufeld spoke on “Loneliness”. Some suggest that our society’s greatest problem is loneliness. Social networking, such as Facebook, can help people connect with each other in remote ways, but in fact many of those “relationships” are artificial, superficial, and can even lead to making one more lonely. Being ‘connected’ through that type of technology is not the same as creating a deep bond with someone face to face. Sixty years ago, 1/10th of our households consisted of one person; now this has risen to 1/3rd. Even monastic solitude involved regular meetings with other monks. Loneliness can be particularly acute for elderly individuals, as friends pass away and families move to find work or become busy. When teenagers say they are bored, it is at times a sign that they are lonely. Solitude is often voluntary, but loneliness is often forced on us. Mother Theresa’s diaries reveal that even though she was surrounded by people, she was intensely lonely, sometimes even wondering whether God was with her. Jesus at times took friends with him instead of being alone (Mount of Transfiguration, Garden of Gethsemane). The early church realized that believers needed to cooperate and be friends if the house groups were to survive. Hutterites, one of the few Christian groups to practice living cooperatively, often treasure being surrounded by close friends. Henry suggested that our MCC Thrift Stores consider creating coffee corners for the customers, some of whom enter the store because they are lonely. Could local pastors give half a day a week to sitting and listening in those places? That is the model used by the Food Bank at Sherbrook Mennonite Church. If our churches created a strategy for addressing loneliness, what would it look like? [JEK]

Henry Neufeld Travis Martin Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Helmut Lemke Ps 69:1-20; 1Ki 19:1-10; Mt 7:1-5 Yes
Jun 03, 2012 A Charter for Peacemaking

Andre Pekovich based his message on the concept of compassion. Karen Armstrong, a former nun, is disappointed that religious leaders do not sufficiently stress compassion; she sees a commonality of compassion in all major religions. A recent Sojourners article points out that Christians disagree on subjects from the profound to the mundane: the ordination of women, religion and politics, same sex unions, hell, heaven, baptism, which brand of fair-trade coffee to use, whether to use wafers, pita, home baked, organic, or bagels for communion, etc. Compassion is often lacking in dealing with these issues. Compassion is not a “soft” value, rather it is a principled determination to put oneself in the other person’s shoes – follow the golden rule. Armstrong’s Charter of Compassion is not simply a statement of principle, but a call to action. In light of our world’s problems: militarism, war, global warming, devotion to money, etc, we need to strive for the enduring peace described in Isaiah 54. We have to live differently; there must be an intentional turning away from an old way of life. Try compassionate action. [HN].

Andre Pekovich Diane Ehling Catherine Cooper Ruth Enns Jas 3:13-18; Jnh 3; Eccl7:14-20; Eccl 4:1-6; Isa 54:1-10 Trinity Sunday Yes
May 27, 2012 Camp Luther

From Friday, May 25th through Sunday, May 27th, the annual PGIMF church retreat was held at Camp Luther on Hatzic Lake in Mission, BC.

N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Pentecost
May 20, 2012 Praying for Power, Love, and Fullness

Megan Jung (recent Regent grad from Australia), in asking how we cope with being spiritually weak, identified three ways we are asked to fulfill God’s mission to grow his church. In Ephesians 3, Paul identifies how God strengthens us when spiritually weak, to transform others. At the centre of Paul’s letter are three prayer requests – to pray to be strengthened with power through the spirit; to pray to be able to grasp the love of Christ; to pray with boldness to be filled with all the fullness of God. In this intercessory prayer, Paul acknowledges God’s gift of power and love through Christ, on his knees, and accepts the gift of the Spirit, in order to be able to lead others to belief. Love is the key for us as we seek to work God’s will. [AP]

Megan Jung Andre Pekovich Paul Thiessen Michael Thomas Henry Neufeld Ephesians 3:14-21 Yes
May 13, 2012 Poetry & Peace

Published author, musician and mother, Barb Nickel began Mother’s Day with the text of Julia Ward Howe’s proclamation of peacemaking with the famous line “ we will not welcome our men to our beds reeking of carnage.” This prominent abolitionist’s words which began the tradition of Mother’s Day inspired Barb to search her own work of poetry for a peace tradition. She found it one day in the tragedy of the five mothers in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, PA, who lost daughters that went bravely to a death nobody could have imagined. The grace and compassion and forgiveness shown by the Amish community to the family of the killer was so alien to the world’s view of “big revenge for big violence”. Later, Barb wrote a poem about the incident and the girls themselves, which begins “You can’t see – the small bones – of the five – girls who stopped – growing that day,” Barb redefined poetry first from a lecture by Robert Ringhurst, broadening its scope far beyond the mere text of poems, “not pretty words, not something hybridized by humans on the farm of human language… but an aspect of existence so broad… while language is [only] one of the methods by which it is brought to life.” He noted that “poems are icebergs of language floating in the ocean of poetry”. Barb extended Ringhurst’s definition still further to say that poetry is God’s language, as expressed in everyday actions, like the gentle grace of small girls meeting their death in Pennsylvania, in the grace of forgiveness expressed to the killer’s family. Barb insisted that God’s poetry sometimes goes unnoticed, like the “tiny bones of the five girls buried deep in the earth”.

Through the lens of the parable of the mustard seed, Barb invited us into the poetry of God’s world. How do we participate in the poetry of creation in God’s garden? Begin to slow down, observe, listen, think, pray. Observe the rhythm of daily life and participate mindfully in it. Weed and water daily. Get out of the way, and let life sprout not according to your will, but to God’s. Who knows what other branches and leaves have grown all over the world that day because of the Amish witness? “Like a cavalry of dandelion seeds” (Wm. Stafford) blown by a toddler, God’s poetry is for everyone whether you know iambic pentameter or not. What will you plant, what work of weeding and watering will you do, and what mysteries and grace will grow up unseen out of your inspiration? [AP]

Barbara Nickel Henry Neufeld Ann Marie Mossman Rosemary Bell Peter Neudorf Mt 13:31-35; Ps 78:1-3; Mother's Day Yes
May 06, 2012 This Is How We Overcome

Death, noted Hannah Dutko in speaking on Revelation 12:11, is not reflected on much in our society. John, the writer of Revelation asks us to consider death at every step of our lives. This letter to the ancient churches who are under persecution and facing death of the body or of the spirit in being led astray by popular beliefs of the empire, were addressed in three ways by John. Though nothing new (Revelation quotes the Old Testament more often than any other book of the bible) the visions in Revelation confirm what we already have been told in countless other ways – to hold fast to our discipleship and be faithful in the midst of injustice and falsehood. The imagery in this book supports these thoughts – Jesus the slain lamb, the woman in birth representing Israel, and the dragon representing the militaristic evil empire that lives without evnd even until today. Hannah noted the text encourages us to face these challenges in three ways. Firstly, as Christ laid his life down in order to overcome, so too will we overcome if we give our lives for Christ. Secondly, we overcome by testifying how God acts for us out of love. Hannah noted in her profession that active listening can only take troubled people so far – at some point it is necessary to use the gospel to envision a better future for all, and to commit to it. Last, we overcome by dying to our desires and being reborn into the desires God has for us. In a society where we face death so seldom that we have come to believe that evil does not exist, God asks us to die to self-centredness, to desire, to satieity, in order to live to fulfill God’s vision. The spirit will shape us into whole, god-loving people, if only we will let it. [AP]

Hannah Dutko Rosie Perera Erna Friesen Andre Pekovich Helmut Lemke Revelation 12:11 Yes
Apr 29, 2012 The prophetic voice of Judaism

Easter and Passover both teach redemption: the world does not need to continue as it is, Rabbi David Mivasair said on April 29th. Mivasair, the Rabbi at Vancouver’s Ahavat Olam congregation is a progressive and open-minded soul who is recognized for his compassionate teaching. Mivasair also provides chaplaincy services in Vancouver’s downtown east side at First United Church. Mivsair noted that the Rabbinic tradition has 613 divine commandments for Jewish people, but only two of those talk about what to pursue: seek peace and pursue it, and pursue justice. These are things we are to go out and create, he said. The experience of slavery in Egypt reminds us of the need for reparation – care for the stranger and the orphan – because you were slaves in Egypt. He described Passover as a model of how life can be, noting that the Bible talks about a Passover for all people. The promise of liberation and redemption is for everyone, he said. Citing Abraham’s negotiation with God about saving the righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah, Mivasair maintained that a truly righteous person argues with God: arguing with God is what made Abraham stand out. Mivasair said we are God’s agents, acting out the godly drama: what is God trying to get you to do? “Seek, pursue, and engage,” were the Rabbi’s closing words. (HN)

Rabbi David Mivasair Veronica Dyck Rosie Perera Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Isa 57:14-58:14; Mic 4:1-5; Ps 118 PGIMF AGM & Pizza Lunch Yes Yes Yes
Apr 22, 2012 MCC Palestine Learning Tour

Ken Friesen reflected on his recent tour to Israel and Palestine with an MCC group. Ken noted that MCC has been working in the area since 1949, shortly after the establishment of the state of Israel. The experience provided Ken (an MCC-BC Board member) with an opportunity to see what peace-making looks like in a conflict area. He observed that the Israel/Palestine situation is controversial: some Christians want total support for Israel while others are concerned about how the Palestinians are treated by the Israeli state. Palestinians are up against a highly organized military state. People in the Middle East hold strong and unflinching political views. MCC’s role is to share Christ’s love and become a blessing through service to others. MCC’s work involves partnerships with a dozen local organizations, including a conflict resolution centre and products for Ten Thousand Villages. Citing Jesus teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, Ken said we should treat others with love and respect, and we should be giving priority to compassion over power and control. God’s requirement is that we respond to human need, wherever it may be. (HN)

Ken Friesen Andre Pekovich Deberah Shears Ruth Enns Edward Epp Mt 5:13-20; Ge 23:2-20; Mic 6:1-8 Yes
Apr 15, 2012 The Present Significance of Jesus’ Resurrection

Carl Friesen, on a recent trip to Israel/Palestine, was confronted with a gross oversimplification of the gospel: “Jesus substitutionary death on the cross brings salvation to lost souls so that all those who believe can enjoy eternity in heaven when they die.” Carl asks, if this is all there is to the Christian story, what is the significance of Easter Sunday? Why didn’t the story finish on Good Friday with the cross? Carl notes some insist it merely foreshadows a future resurrection for us. Carl notes that view is not supported anywhere by Scripture, and took us through various passages in the gospels and Paul’s letters to show that Resurrection Sunday proved once and for all that this Messiah (as opposed to all the other pretend messiahs who came before) really was not only the king of all creation, but that his new creation had already begun with the Easter Sunday event. Parallelling John’s gospel of the account of creation “In the beginning was the Word…”, John brings forth image after image to demonstrate Christ’s resurrection as the new creation – both occurred on the first day of the week, both brought new life out of water, both brought forth healing – from raising Moses’ serpent and from the ascended man. Carl points out that Paul extends this theology in 1 Corinthians and Romans by insisting that the new life called forth in Christ’s resurrection is also called forth in the world around us right now – the whole world has a chance for new life, and we, as Christ’s agents in the world now must bring it about. This call given to all Christians is not merely to endure this life in the hope of a better one after death, but to work hard to bring about the harvest of this new creation, so that the last image John leaves us with – a new heaven and a new earth coming together in heavenly union under Christ the king. [AP]

Carl Friesen John Friesen Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Jn 20:1-18; 1Co 15:20-28; Psalm 8; Ro 8:18-25; Rev 21:1-7 Yes
Apr 08, 2012 Easter Sunday service of praise and song

A service of readings and songs was held on Easter Sunday.  There was no audio recording made.

J. Evan Kreider Ann Marie Neudorf Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Easter Sunday Yes Yes
Apr 01, 2012 Atonement, Scapegoating and the Cross

John Friesen focused on the scapegoat concept as described in Leviticus 16. The scapegoat was a goat that was allowed to escape into the wilderness after the priest had laid the sins of the people upon it as part of the “Day of Atonement” activities. The scapegoat is a person or group (usually innocent) made to take the blame for the fault of another, a strategy that’s endemic in society: in churches, universities, and families. It’s important to distinguish between blame and scapegoating. John described Jesus taking the role of the scapegoat, “behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The resurrection released Jesus from the role of the scapegoat. Jesus calls us to a new relationship with God and with each other, we are to exercise mercy, not violence. (HN)

John Friesen Veronica Dyck Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Phlp 2:1-13; Mk 11:1-11; Mk 14:1-21; Lv 16:21-24; Jn 1:29-34; Jn 11:45-54 Palm Sunday Yes
Mar 25, 2012 The Prodigal Son

Joseph Dutko dealt with Jesus’ story about the prodigal son, pointing out that the story is really about the father and should be called “The Searching Father.” This story needs to be seen in the context of three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. The son demands his inheritance (even though his father had not died) and squanders it, bringing shame on the father and the family. The son does not return home repentant, rather he develops a self-serving plan to earn his way back into the family. The father sees his son from afar and runs to him – a culturally humiliating act. The father embraces his son without hearing the son’s speech; he treats his son as if he never wronged the father. Faith is accepting God’s acceptance of us; our worth comes from being loved by God. Sometimes we need to stop striving, to do nothing – just rest in God’s love for us. (HN)

Joseph Dutko Laura Eriksson Andre Pekovich Deberah Shears Henry Neufeld Luke 15:11-32 Lent 5/Student Year-End BBQ Yes Yes
Mar 18, 2012 Beyond belief: trust in, adhere to and rely on God’s grace

Words are fascinating; they are the drivers of thoughts and they can mean different things to different people. Sometimes using alternate word helps clarify the meaning of the original words. Last Sunday Kevin Hiebert noted that the Greek word for “belief” appeared 240 times in the Bible. Using the Amplified Bible, Kevin helped us see the word “belief’ as: to adhere to, to rely on, to cling to, to depend on, to trust. In the desert, after leaving Egypt, the unhappy Israelites “spoke against God and Moses” and grumbled about the food – manna (miserable food). This resulted in punishment and death of many people by poisonous snakes. Following God’s direction, Moses made a bronze serpent, put it on pole, and all who looked at it did not die from the serpent’s bites. This imagery is repeated in John 3, leading to the popular “for God so loved the world” verses. The Ephesians passage points out that we are saved by grace (unmerited favour, mercy) and that we are to work out (to cultivate and complete) our salvation. Good works are our response to the forgiveness that is freely given. (HN)

Kevin Hiebert Don Teichroeb Veronica Dyck Cara Tweed Helmut Lemke Nu21:4-9; Ps107:1-3,17-22; Jn3:14-21; Eph2:1-10 Lent 4 Yes
Mar 11, 2012 Pondering the love of God

Santosh Ninan spoke on “Pondering the love of God”. Psalm 107 begins and ends with thanksgiving, while the heart of the poem presents four types of people living away from God and therefore they are in need of God. After identifying each type, the poem indicates that even this type of person can turn to God and be helped. The Psalm considers people who are homeless (107.4-9); people dealing with exile from God (10-16); people who are dying spiritually (17-22); people who are well off and therefore want to maintain the status quo but whose lives are in fact out of control (23-32). Of course we, like these types of people, try to hide our conditions, covering up the truth about ourselves. In the Psalm, each of these groups of people found that they could cry out to the Lord, and that repentance led to forgiveness and true thankfulness. The lost needed a guide, the sick needed a healer . . . God addressed each problem. The Psalm does not suggest that we are saved by our own morality, but instead suggests that not knowing our condition can be dangerous. This recalls the story of Jesus contrasting the effectiveness of two prayers, that given publicly by an unnamed self-righteous Pharisee praying without understanding the seriousness of his needs, and that offered quietly and effectively from the depths of the soul seeking forgiveness. [JEK]

Santosh Ninan Rosie Perera J Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Psalm 107:33-43 Lent 3 Yes
Mar 04, 2012 Unwavering in faith

Rosie Perera spoke on the Lectionary texts, finding them to be held together by cognitive dissonance’. For example, when Abram was a poetic 99 years old and childless, he was told that his descendants that would become a veritable nation (Genesis 13), and then the very part of his anatomy required to get this fertility going first had to be threatened by circumcision. In our Gospel reading (Mark 8), immediately after disciples proclaim Jesus as Messiah, Jesus launches into predictions of his impending death. Romans 4 portrays Abram as being unwavering in faith, in spite of having a son with Hagar and laughing in the angel’s face. Do we, like Abram, and like other humans portrayed in scripture, have cognitive dissonance in our lives, dissonance between our thinking, our professions, and our living? [JEK]

Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Ge 17:1–7, 15–16; Ps 22:23–31; Ro 4:13–25; Mk 8:31–38 Lent 2 Yes
Feb 26, 2012 Why are you downcast?

On our first Sunday of Lent, Michael Thomas (Centre resident, singer in Abendmusik, Regent graduate student in theology) suggested that since Christ’s walk to the cross began with his baptism, we should look at Lent through the lens of baptism. We can begin by reflecting on our own baptism, and then on how Jesus’ baptism led him directly into the 40-day experiences of the ‘desert’ of his intellectual life of faith and action. Early Anabaptists saw baptism as a public initiation into the broader assembly of believers and as a public acceptance of the call to go through the wilderness of life. Some were martyred by drowning–their third baptism. Baptism includes the mark of forgiveness, but we are also baptized by our future pain, difficulties and sorrows into a heavenly citizenship. Conrad Grebel’s accusers (Martyr’s Mirror) tried to show that he was suffering for a mistaken cause. This can plant the seed of uncertainty, reminding us of Psalm 25, “Let me not be put to shame”, i.e., reassure me that my faith in you is indeed right. [JEK]

Michael Thomas Karl Brown Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Ge 9:8-17; Ps 25:1-10; 1Pe3:18-22; Mk1:9-15 Lent 1 Yes Yes
Feb 19, 2012 Restored to Wholeness: Forgiveness & Healing

The Gospel of Mark is self-described as being about ‘good news’ (Mark 1.1). John prepared some in society for a new way of thinking, and then baptized Jesus, who continued John’s work. Mark’s stories illustrated how difficult it was for people to grasp these new ideas. Last Sunday, Veronica Dyck reviewed how Jesus initially attracted supportive crowds (Mark, chapter 1) but then almost immediately (Mark 2) also attracted hostile criticism. Our morning’s lectionary reading (Mark 2.1-12) took place in Capernaum, a home base for Jesus in Galilee. In this story, a lame man was somehow presented to Jesus by being passed through the house roof. As if this was not unusual enough, Jesus then further startled everybody by declaring that the man’s sins were forgiven (possibly playing on the Jewish thinking that illnesses resulted from sins). Jesus did not claim to be the one forgiving, but instead left that part sufficiently ambiguous to make people think. Nobody (including Jesus) could actually prove this declaration since the forgiveness of sins is invisible, so Jesus then went one step farther and healed the man, something which was very visible indeed. (We have to wonder whether the real healing was spiritual. For instance, we can say that we are “healed” even though we are not physically cured.) The crowd was “amazed”, but that observation does not imply belief. Throughout Mark’s stories, Jesus is shown performing acts of external healing as a way of demonstrating the possibility of inner invisible healing. The message of God (forgiveness) receives priority in these stories, often followed by demonstrable physical healing. We used to have very clear notions concerning sin, but now societal thinking is changing. Some, for example, think that crime is merely the result of behavioral problems, not sin. We are now forced to ask ourselves, “What is sin?” Veronica also noted that, like the lame man and his onlookers, we need to learn how to accept forgiveness. These were the very same questions Jesus asked his contemporaries to contemplate. [JEK]

Veronica Dyck Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Titus Gregory Peter Neudorf Mark 2:1-12, plus lectionary for Epiphany 7 Yes
Feb 12, 2012 Looking for Cracks

Jon Nofziger showed us a number of photos–light coming into a dark room through a crack, a flower blooming in a harsh desert, a tiny urban garden planted on a pile of rubble in Haiti, a Jew who received a heart transplanted from a generous Palestinian donor. We have our own desert blossoms in our time’s of crisis, reminding us that God’s purposes can shine forth at all times. Naaman (2 Kings 5) was at the height of his military and political career when his self-image was ruined by a distasteful skin disease, meaning that he no longer ‘looked the part’. An unnamed Jewish slave girl was a flower in his desert, offering him hope of a cure. Naaman was slighted when the prophet did come to see him; do we think God must personally look after us according to our expectations? Naaman tried to purchase healing; a black criminal market supplies human organs world-wide as transplants, no questions asked; do Christians with resources expect to receive better health care than others? Naaman was not healed by faith alone but had to act. How do we experience of the reality of God in our lives, light entering in cracks in the darkness of our lives? [JEK]

Jon Nofziger Janice Kreider J Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen 2 Kgs 5:1–14; 1 Cor 9:24–27; Mk 1:40–45 Yes
Feb 05, 2012 Song of Solomon

Evan Kreider spoke about the sensual poetry of the Song of Solomon. This book, written either by, for, or about Solomon, has been a challenge to scholars for centuries. It has been viewed allegorically (describing God’s love for his people), as a wedding song, a mortuary hymn (love is stronger than death), and as secular love poetry of a king seeking to woo a young farm girl. Some see the account of the girl in the song as a prototype of the virgin Mary and “breasts” represent the new teachings of Christ. Evan suggested that the song points out that love – including sexual love – is a wonderful gift from God and it’s okay to talk about it. The song celebrates lovers coming together and articulates the anguish of being apart. In the discussion it was noted that as readers we bring meaning to the text and often project onto the text what we want it to say. The song celebrates love and the ecstasy of intimacy. (HN)

Evan Kreider Travis Martin Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Edward Epp Sg 1:1-6; Mk 4:21-34; Prv 4:1-9; Ez 1-4-14 Yes
Jan 29, 2012 Spiritual seasons – winter

Connie Siedler (former resident of the Menno Simons Centre and theology student at Regent) spoke on the woman healed of bleeding (Mark 5). Over a period of 12 years, she has spent all her resources seeking healing. During that time, she had been forced to undergo interminable waiting, and a ‘winter’ emotionally. However, waiting is not passive, it is actually an activity. It may appear to others that little is happening, but a lot can be happening inside as we learn to face difficulties and even inner darkness. Although God may seem distant, God is always present. Scripture cites many individuals forced to wait: Job, Abraham and Sarah, David (anointed years before being acclaimed king). The Old Testament lectionary text told of Hannah (1 Samuel 1) suffering inner anguish, a ‘winter of her soul’, as she waited. ‘Winter’ is a time of waiting. Even so, winter offers gifts to us. We can get to know who we are as we face difficulties in ourselves in new ways, and we may discover that faith grows best in winter, even in seasons of pain. Every winter has the promise of spring. [JEK]

Connie Siedler Andre Pekovich Veronica Dyck Deberah Shears Peter Neudorf Mk 5:24b-34; 1Sa 1:1-18 Yes Yes Yes
Jan 22, 2012 Paul’s Five guidelines

Janice Kreider noted that missionary work often brought a colonial mentality and culture along with the gospel. Missionary/anthropologist Jacob Loewen in Educating Tiger described three mission models: short term witnesses, replicating a missionary’s religion and culture, and a catalyst strategy. The latter strategy assumes God already at work and the missional approach is to develop “that of God” in a particular context, meaning the missionary’s role is less culturally bound. Janice cited several examples of the catalyst approach. In looking at some rather stringent statements Paul gave to the Corinthians, she noted that these are not hard and fast rules, but guidelines which can be understood better with fresh interpretations. For instance “those who buy as if they had no possessions” is better understood as ”don’t get engrossed in things.” Janice reminded us of Frederick Buechner’s comment that ‘vocation’ is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. (HN)

Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Rosemary Bell Henry Neufeld Jh 3:1-5,10; Ps 62:5-12; 1Cor7:29-31; Mk1:14-20 Yes
Jan 15, 2012 A Call in the Cosmos

Laura Eriksson focused on God’s call to Samuel and on Jesus call to Nathaniel. Using the image of a film, Laura noted that a call comes in the context of a person’s life, and sometimes we need to rewind the film to get the whole picture; a film has many frames. Samuel, a child living out his mother’s promise, is called by God at a time when ”the word of the Lord was rare.” The child ?Samuel is called to bring a harsh message to his mentor, Eli. In Jesus time Nathaniel was skeptical about Philip’s claim to have found the one of whom the prophets wrote. Philip told Nathaniel to “come and see.” Jesus said he saw Nathaniel “under the fig tree” – a Jewish figure of speech – meaning he was studying the Torah. Samuel and Nathaniel are invited to participate in the work of God. Samuel and Nathaniel teach us to test the call, to make time to listen. We need each other to look through the lens of faith. Sometimes God’s call gets drowned out by the white noise around us. (HN)

Laura Eriksson Rosie Perera Paul Thiessen Ruth Enns Erika Hannan 1 Sam 3:1-20; Ps 139:1-6, 13-18; Jn 1:43-51 Yes
Jan 08, 2012 In the Beginning…

Don Teichroeb spoke on the Old Testament lectionary reading, Genesis 1.1-5 (and John 1.1-5). This wonderful creation story, however interpreted, places God at the center of everything. But that is where agreement often stops. Over the centuries, and increasingly so as our era approaches, there have been widespread debates about Genesis 1 and science generally. Francis Collins discusses this in some detail in his book, The Language of God. For centuries, people assumed the earth was flat, likely square with four corners, and that the heavens revolved around the earth, for that was what people could observe throughout the years. But when this understanding was challenged, people of faith did not understand, and lashed out, fearing that the very pillars of faith were being denied. When Galileo’s telescope revealed that four moons circled around Jupiter and not the earth, again many Christians were aggressively defensive, largely because of misunderstandings and inadequate assumptions. Don then asked, “How will we be judged by history concerning things we believe about the world, largely because we ??do not yet understand?” Augustine argued that God is outside the boundaries of time, a view that is too often forgotten. The poetic account in Genesis says, so very wonderfully, “In the beginning”, but we no longer even know whether there ever was a beginning, or what there was before there was a beginning! When did space appear? No matter where we turn, all known theories seem to require assumptions (faith). During discussion it was noted that the less we understand things, the more we speak about them with unshakable conviction, whereas, in all of this talk, we ought to see ourselves standing in the center of these questions–in awe and wonder. And someone once said, “I am not here to answer questions, only to arouse curiosity.” [JEK]

Don Teichroeb Kevin Hiebert Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Deberah Shears Edward Epp Genesis 1 Commitment Sunday Yes
Jan 01, 2012 Forgiveness, Mercy and Compassion

Hauer was once told of someone who prayed for forgiveness during prayer time in church, only to have the pastor tell him afterward that he was not forgiven. The pastor pointed out that the person first had to offer reparations and try to undo the wrong, even if the cost might be enormous. We often realize that we need to ask someone for forgiveness, yet we seldom ask; in fact, it is something that would be very difficulty to do, and we may not even have any models to follow since the asking is a private matter rather than public. The book, “Amish Grace” told of the Amish forgiving the man who murdered their school children, but someone in their community of faith noted that it is easier to forgive an outsider than to forgive a friend. Forgiveness and reparation are closely linked in scripture, yet this is seldom taught in evangelical circles. Instead, we hope that our offering but one sentence will somehow cover all the ongoing hurt we have caused someone. After the talk, some interesting questions were asked. How do forgiveness and reparation interrelate with grace? Is forgiveness like scar tissue–still there but having life under the scar tissue? Do Catholics feel forgiven if they only go to confession rather than to the hurt individual? When are we forgiven? [JEK]

Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Matthew 6:14-16; Matthew 18:21-35 New Year's Day Yes
Dec 25, 2011 No Service Today

No service was held on Christmas Day.
There was no bulletin or audio recording

N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Christmas Day Yes
Dec 18, 2011 Service of Carols and Songs

A service of readings and singing was held on the fourth Advent.

No speaker Evan Kreider Ann Marie Neudorf Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Advent IV - Christmas Potluck Breakfast Yes Yes
Dec 11, 2011 The Love Which Surpasses All Knowledge

On the Third Sunday of Advent, Karl Brown gave the second in his series of talks on faith. For Christians, faith concerns our belief in God and in salvation from sin. This is so important that in order to join most congregations, one must both profess having faith and have been living a life in which faith has somehow been in evidence. With December being the season for aggressive marketing, Karl asked us to reflect on whether marketing has ever been applied by Christians to promoting something as important, and yet as elusive as faith (e.g., tent revival campaigns, televangelism). Marketing seeks to send a message, often by telling/showing a story or scenario which is in tune with the targeted audience’s s world view. In today’s gospel lectionary (John 1.6-), John the Baptist was successful at promoting/marketing his faith views because what he had to say so perfectly fit the world view of many of his Jewish listeners, and because they sensed that he was trying to live according to his professed faith. His was the kind of faith they found possibly attractive for their daily living and present political dilemma. Does our society know about our faith enough to consider whether that kind of faith might be applicable to daily living and to society’s pressing concerns? [JEK]

Karl Brown Veronica Dyck Paul Thiessen Deberah Shears Erika Hannan Eph 3:14-21 Advent III Yes
Dec 04, 2011 The Love that Surpasses Knowledge

Santosh Ninan (Regent graduate, former pastor, active speaker and writer, and presently a stay-at-home-Dad) spoke on “Love which surpasses all knowledge”. During his years in prison, Paul had ample time to reflect, pray and write. During those times of confinement, he became particularly concerned that the new Christians in Ephesis be somehow corporately grounded in love, even as they faced brokenness in their personal and corporate lives. Every modern family, of course, carries it secrets, hurts and concerns, and too often individuals then construct protective barriers which distance them even from people they ostensibly love. At times, Santosh suggested, these mental barriers can unthinkingly be carried over into our relationship with God. Knowing this, Paul prayed that the Ephesians could both grasp and somehow know the love of God, a love that ‘surpasses knowledge’. Santosh dramatically contrasted believers having a theoretical knowledge about God as opposed to them actually experiencing God’s love: Think of the contrasts between meeting someone online via eHarmony and meeting them in person–two entirely different things. Santosh then made three suggestions: (1) Take an honest emotional audit on how well you receive love and accept forgiveness, (2) Spend time with God in quiet prayer and fasting, and (3) Dare to seek to create close ‘soul friends’. A recent survey conducted by the Vancouver Foundation identified “isolation” as the number one concern for Vancouverites. Paul directly addressed this concern in his letter to the Ephesians. [JEK]

Santosh Ninan Paul Thiessen Veronica Dyck Michael Thomas Edward Epp Ephesians 3:14-21 Advent II Yes
Nov 27, 2011 Sing-along Messiah

The congregation sang excerpts of Handel’s Messiah.

no speaker Evan Kreider Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Advent I Yes Yes
Nov 20, 2011 The Sheep of Christ

John Klassen (ex-Trinity Professor of Church History) drew inspiration from the lectionary texts Ezekiel 34, Matthew 25 and Ephesians 1 to characterize our lives as goats and sheep. John noted that these texts primarily dealt with our treatment of the poor, and drew strongly the link to Adam and Eve’s original fall from the garden in search of knowledge. John noted the poor often receive ill-treatment as “You pushed with flank and shoulder and butted the weak animals with your horns.” (Ez 34:21), but God Herself succors the poor by “welcoming the stranger” in that well-known passage from Matthew 25:31-46. John then broke from scripture and drew an important distinction between speaking scripture and speaking about scripture, and noted these are intimately tied up with works. Though grace is sufficient, the texts also call us to works, as do the poor everywhere around us, and John made special note of the Occupy movement as being worthy of help. John asked “how then are we to live?” He noted the moral system God created to help the poor is one rite of salvation, and drew on his experience in Pax in the 1960s as a guide to his emerging faith. Though societies have used force to enforce a just society, God entreats us with mercy to follow his path, and offers his empathy with our suffering by reminding us of the sacrifice of his Son to encourage us to return to the Garden. In the Ephesians passage, Paul notes we were given “the inward eye” to see the love God has for us. Let us look, not with the knowledge that comes of learning, but with the inward eye. [AP]

John Klassen Janice Kreider Edwin Hintz Rosemary Bell Helmut Lemke Ez 34; Mt 25; Eph 1 Eternity Sunday Yes
Nov 13, 2011 On resisting violence and peace-making

Last Sunday On November 13th, Char Siemens (principal of a middle school in Abbotsford and former MCC worker) reported that while she was handing out candy to about 80 children on Halloween, a man entered a Catholic church in Bagdad, held a gun to the priest during a service, and killed 40 believers, some of whom were friends of her former students. Char had been accepted to teach ESL in the St. Peter Chaldean Seminary (Catholic) in Ankawa (northern Iraq) for 6 weeks. Now that half of the Christians have fled Iraq (going to Syria, Detroit, Toronto, etc.), only about 3-4% of Iraq are Christians. Char joined the seminarians for their daily morning and evening prayers, which she enjoyed as bookends to her 10-hour teaching days. Our media suggests that Iraq is populated with terrorists, but while she was in Iraq, Char learned far more about living a life of peace than about war. It is true that priests have been assassinated, but new young recruits immediately volunteer to train to take their places. Almost nobody expects things to get better, but one man told her that rather than giving up, he decided to do something – become a priest. Like so many before her, Char felt that she gained far more from her students in Iraq than she was able to give, for they are a very generous people. [JEK]

There was no recording of the service.

Char Siemens Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Cara Tweed Edward Epp Ephesians 3:16-21; Matthew 5:38-48; Psalm 130 Peace Sunday Yes
Nov 06, 2011 Living the Story: The role of memory and hope in the life of faith

Michael Thomas spoke on Living the Stories, the memory of living and faith. The Book of Proverbs shows enormous respect to old people for their life wisdom they can pass to the next generation. Today’s generation prefers to avoid attentive listening to the endlessly-repeated stories told by our old people. By contrast, the Book of Exodus orders the Jews to “tell the story”, to keep it alive from one generation to the next. Since each generation inherits both the good and the bad from the earlier generation, we cannot understand ourselves if we do not know our ancestors’ stories. The stories Jesus told were actually teaching tools, not simply entertainment. His story (Lectionary, Matt. 25.1-13) about the wise and foolish virgins reminds us that we have only one life to live, and we had better ‘get it right’ this time (there is no next time). During discussion, Michael added that singing hymns is essentially an act of collective memory as we review songs which were written learned, sung (memorized) generations before ours, and will exist long after our demise. Singing these songs is like ancestors telling stories, passing on the faith of our spiritual ancestors to the next generation. [JEK]

Michael Thomas Chris Skinner Veronica Dyck Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Jos 24:1-25; Ps 78:1-7; 1Th4:13-18; Mt 25:1-13 Yes
Oct 30, 2011 Luther’s influence

On Reformation Sunday, Dr. Charles Paris (former Roman Catholic priest, theologian and teacher) reflected on ways in which Catholicism has changed during the five centuries following the Reformation. Last month, Pope Benedict XVI did the unthinkable by delivering a major address in the Chapter Hall of Martin Luther’s former Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. Not one to mince words, a very frustrated Luther repeatedly called the papacy “asses” in 1531. Were he alive today, one might imagine Luther congratulating the papacy and calling the Pope his brother in Christ, for things have indeed changed, on both sides. Pope Benedict noted that, for Luther, theology was a struggle with God, and this struggle led him to find Christ. Pope Benedict then praised Luther, saying that his whole theology was centered on Christ, and that Luther had pointed out how Catholicism had strayed from the bible. Both the Reformation and Counter Reformation were primarily focused on what divided Christians, but now we are starting to appreciate all that unifies us. [While Pope Benedict praised Luther for his reforms, some at PGIMF praised Charlie for demonstrating another church reform–the 10 minute sermon. We then had ample time for a wonderful 20 minutes of lively discussion. [JEK]

Charles Paris Evan Kreider Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Jer. 31:31-34; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36 All Saints Day, Reformation Sunday Yes Yes Yes
Oct 23, 2011 The Cost of Dissent: Injustice and Empire

Dave Diewert spoke about Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem as his followers anticipated the setting up of a new kingdom. Along the way Jesus encountered Zacchaeus, dined with the tax collector, and paid attention to the weak, the ill and those with little social status. Zacchaeus, (a collaborator with the Roman rulers) as a result of Jesus visit, committed himself to justice. “That’s what conversion looks like for those with imperial power,” said Dave. The parable of the talents is told as they leave Zacchaeus’ home. The nobleman gave his servants money and went away to solidify his hold on power to much fear among the citizenry. On his return, he calls the servants to account for what they did with the money, and praises the first two. The third servant exposes the corrupt master, saying he’s a harsh and austere master who demands to reap what he did not sow. This servant exposes the master’s style of operation and refuses to play the game of abusive power. The master is not impressed, takes the money from the servant and gives it to the first servant. This is not about fairness, it’s about extending the master’s power. This parable is about power and shows how dissent is dealt with. In Jesus new kingdom Jesus is the victim, not the ruler. Salvation means defection from power; defection is possible but costly. We need to realize we are embedded in the systems of our kingdoms. The current Wall Street protests seek a redistribution of wealth, something Jesus called for. How do we embody a life of dissent? [HN]

Dave Diewert Diane Ehling Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Luke 19:11-28 Yes
Oct 16, 2011 A Woman Bent Over

Throughout her teaching and work concerning domestic violence in society and in the church, Elsie Goerzen (MCC-BC and CBI) has drawn inspiration from the life and teaching of Jesus, especially from how he related to women and the marginalized in his society. On Oct. 16th, Elsie focused on the story (Luke 13.10-17) about “the woman bent over” — crippled and essentially a voiceless outcast. In synagogues, women sat behind screens during worship (so they did not ‘bother’ men), and they were to be silent. When out of the home, a woman was to be accompanied (thereby protecting the honour of her husband), and any man wishing to talk to her was to speak through her chaperone. Touching was out of the question. In Luke 13, an unnamed but crippled woman attended synagogue, possibly knowing Jesus would be there. At one point, Jesus began breaking one taboo after another. He called directly to the woman (not through someone else), contacting her over the dividing screen. He healed her, right then and there, on the Sabbath. She then broke the rules by praising God (rather than being silent). Today, too many women in church and society are marginalized by rules, social practices and legal practices which can be used against the poor (including women). Elsie reminded us that we have the opportunity to be like Jesus, or we can live with ‘screens’ in our lives. St Paul challenged believers to overturn the traditional prayer of male Jews (giving thanks he is not a Gentile, not a slave, and not a woman). Paul followed Jesus by arguing that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. Easy words? [JEK]

Elsie Goerzen Henry Neufeld Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Helmut Lemke Luke 13:10-17 Yes
Oct 09, 2011 Thanksgiving liturgical service

A service of readings and singing was held for Thanksgiving.  There was no recording of the service posted.

No speaker Evan Kreider Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Thanksgiving Yes
Oct 02, 2011 Faith, the Ageless Commodity

To review the history of Faith surely requires more than a single talk, so Karl Brown presented his first in his series on October 2nd, based on the lectionary texts for that day. Karl’s opening premise is that you can only have faith in something you cannot prove to be true. According to the earliest legends in Genesis and Exodus, at least some Jews felt that they could indeed prove that God existed, therefore, they did not really need to have faith that there was a God, and instead only had to focus on following that God’s ways. Those people are recorded as having heard God’s voice, feeling God’s presence being manifested by cloud and fire, manna, and improbable victories. But as time passed, so did these very personal and direct manifestations, and Faith entered a new phase. By the time of St Paul, religious fanatics not only had to have faith that this elusive and silent God existed, but also that an utterly strict observance of ritualistic actions effectively curried favour with this elusive God. Paul followed that life journey for years before concluding that ritualistic purity and actions were no longer desired by this God, but instead, one must simply have faith in God, and act accordingly. Jesus had already been developing this theory, synthesizing all the Jewish religious rituals, commandments and commentary to just two statements for the believer: Love God as much as is possible for you, and love your neighbour. Pascal viewed faith rather differently, as a way of hedging his bets. He argued that one is better off believing there is a God (even if this turns out to be incorrect) than in believing there is no God (and finding out upon death that you are dead wrong and have no further options). All of this (and more) led to a lively time of discussion and a most enjoyable gathering around coffee. [JEK]

Karl Brown Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Titus Gregory Edward Epp Phil 3:4-14; Mt 21:33-46; Ps 19; Isa 5:1-7 Yes
Sep 25, 2011 For Such a Time as This

Our 25th anniversary service featured several reflections: one on the past of PGIMF and its founding members as seen through the minutes of an old congregational meeting read by Ed Hintz, a second from Don Teichroeb on the distinctives of our congregation in the present; a third from Jonathan Ehling, detailing the attractiveness this congregation holds for those seeking a future with God, and a fourth from Jim Neudorf, whose work with this congregation goes back very nearly to the beginning when he and Grace arrived from Edmonton, looking for a new church that would stand up to the rigorous inquiry he found at university in a survey course on Christianity. Jim realized his Bible-School education was inadequate to the task of explaining the many contradictions and questions the survey course had left him, and gently, through service to the church, relationship with its members, and studying and speaking to the congregation, he worked out a useful theology of living for himself. This extended his abilities to serve in two other churches in Squamish where he now lives, and with several examples from scripture, extended the same invitation to us to take the risk and follow a radical theology of living as God directs. [AP]

Jim Neudorf John Friesen Rosie Perera Ruth Enns Edward Epp Gal 5:22-26 PGIMF 25th Anniversary Yes
Sep 18, 2011 The Faith of Scientists: Mandelbrot, Einstein, & more

Kevin Hiebert’s message opened with Jonah despairing his failure as a prophet, resenting God’s mercy and ignoring God’s dominion over creation, as paralleled in Psalm 145. Kevin led us through the stories of scientists and mathematicians whose explorations of creation and faith informed later philosophers. Although the Aristotelian world-view of the Sun revolving around the earth seemed to harmonize nicely with Scriptural accounts, this geocentric model wasn’t consistent with motion of the heavens to Copernicus, whose heliocentric cosmology was confirmed by new evidence from Galileo’s telescopic observations. The Church had elevated its literal interpretations of natural phenomenon in Scripture to the same level as core doctrine and branded Galileo a heretic, but Pope John Paul II would later praise Galileo for not accepting a contradiction between science and faith: “both come from the same Source and are to be brought into relationship with the first Truth.”

Albert Einstein appreciated the mysteries of creation while subscribing to a view of God closest to that of Spinoza, a 17th Century Dutch philosopher who believed that creation exists in God as a subset of His infinite attributes. While Einstein is famously quoted as saying, “science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind”, he always maintained humility about his theology, corresponding to the weakness of our understanding of nature and the human condition.

The difficulty of reconciling scientific discoveries with Christian theology also challenged Georg Cantor, a mathematician whose writings in the 1880s on infinity and set theory inspired Benoit Mandelbrot, a recently deceased mathematician best known for his work since the 1980s on fractal geometry in fields as diverse as biology, economics and climatology. Kevin described how Mandelbrot’s work has been used in Theosophy, a combination of theology & philosophy which attempts to reconcile scientific and religious disciplines. A mesmerizing video of Michael Hogg’s deep zoom into the never-ending Mandelbrot set illustrated Kevin’s point that our search for knowledge doesn’t have to preclude our search for God, such as when physicists search for the Higgs boson, also known as the “the God particle”. [AP & KH]

Kevin Hiebert Karl Brown Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Jnh 3:10-4:11; Ps 145; Yes
Sep 11, 2011 Weak in the Faith

Evan Kreider spoke on the Romans 14 text about those “weak in the faith,” noting that all religious groups have someone who fits this category. Paul uses the example of not eating meat to discuss Christian behaviour and sin. The key point is not to judge: we are servants of God and of one another; it is God who will do the judging. Paul stresses thinking things through carefully and respecting others: debate the idea, don’t judge the person. As the new student community is being formed at MSC, there will be differing points of view on issues like money, sexuality, etc. It is important to listen to other points of view, and sometimes to agree to disagree. Issues (like gender orientation) tear churches and conferences apart; in Paul’s day it was the meat-eating issue. Eating non-kosher meat was elevated to the realm of sin. The meat/circumcision issues were brought to the Jerusalem council – both sides thought they were right – and there was no middle ground. They agreed to disagree and to not divide the church. Evan noted that our understanding of human behaviour has changed – 200 years ago slavery was accepted by many churches. Church leaders do not have good record when judging others. The body of Christ is a living organism that demands diversity, love and unity. Strong believers are those open to discussion, willing to discuss differing points of view, and to keep the discussion going. Fundamentalists are convinced there is nothing to discuss. We need to practice listening to other points of view and to take off our judge’s robes and leave them at the cross. (HN)

J. Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Romans 14:1-12 MSC Student Barbeque Yes Yes
Sep 04, 2011 Women of the Bible – Conclusion

Andre Pekovich concluded the summer’s series of sermons on Women in the Bible with one story about the prophet Deborah (Judges 4.1-16). Deborah was yet another woman viewed as a paradigm of faithfulness in Judges (whereas some male judges were seriously flawed, such as Samson). Deborah held court under her palm tree, from which she gave her judgments, thereby helping to keep the peace within Israel. When the time was propitious for Israel’s 12 tribes to challenge King Jabin in battle, she summoned warriors from the 12 tribes to gather under the military leadership of Barak (who agreed to take on this risky venture only if Deborah came along). Only 6 tribes sent soldiers, so the army was less substantial than hoped. King Jabin sent his General Sisera to subdue Israel’s disorganized men, providing them superior weapons, including chariots made of iron (not just wood). The military odds were against the Jews, but an unexpected blinding rain and ensuing flash flood mired the heavy chariots in mud, Baal (their god of storms) had let them down, and the army fled in disorder. General Sisera fled on foot, not to Heber, but rather Heber’s wife Jael (Heber worshiped local gods but Jael still feared Yahweh). Jael provided Sisera a place to sleep in her tent, but then drove a tent peg through his temples. Andre then spoke on a second woman, Pilate’s unnamed wife (Matthew 27.19) who frequently traveled with Pilate and served as his political adviser. When Jesus was brought before Pilate, his wife most unexpectedly sent him an urgent message, advising that he free Jesus because she felt he was innocent. This sage advice was ignored, and the consequences were considerable. Although this series has now concluded, there are still more than 100 women cited in the bible for their contributions to the development of Jewish culture, nationhood, and religious development, both in the Old Testament and New. The ministry of Jesus was unthinkable without the logistical and financial support of women who remained, as society then dictated, in the background. Historians now understand that the early church surely would have ceased to exist had women not championed the new religion. [JEK]

Andre Pekovich Laura Eriksson Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen Jg 4:1-16; Jg 5; Mt 27:19 Yes
Aug 28, 2011 Women of the Bible – Mary and the woman lover in Song of Songs

Jo White (Regent College graduate from New Zealand) spoke on two seemingly unrelated texts, John 20.1-18 and Song of Songs 3.1-5. Mary Magdalene was deeply involved with Jesus’ life as one of his followers (possibly even traveling with the group), a witness to his death, burial and resurrection, and most likely as a financial and logistical supporter. Her nickname was Magdala, or “watchtower”, and she certainly did keep watch over Jesus, with the gospels repeatedly recording her watchfulness and citing her first in lists of women. The Song of Songs, by contrast, is a book of erotic poetry which has been interpreted in a wide variety of ways over the centuries. In addition to eroticism, it explores themes of yearning and longing, loss and searching, discovery and joy. Jo suggests that the writer of the Gospel according to John possibly followed the literary model in the Song of Songs when writing the 20th chapter. In scripture, gardens are a motif for meeting and for intimacy; both stories are set in a garden, both have a woman searching, both women found watchmen/angels instead of the beloved, and both finally found the beloved. But then the stories purposefully diverge. Mary M. names Jesus as “teacher” (rather than “beloved”), she is not allowed to embrace Jesus (unlike her counterpart in the Song of Songs), and she is told to talk to the disciples (rather than to the daughters of Jerusalem). Jo then asked us, whom are we seeking? Who is seeking you? Are you a watchtower? [JEK]

Jo White Rosie Perera Andre Pekovich Andre Pekovich Helmut Lemke Sos 3:1-5; Jn 20:1-18 Yes
Aug 21, 2011 Women of the Bible – The Widow of Zarephath

A visit to Janice Kreider’s by idealistic students excited about food security led her to contemplate the perils to our food supply, from ‘food deserts’ in major cities to radiation contamination. Noting that we’re never too far from hunger in our carefully-balanced society, we take food for granted where our ancestors fleeing Europe and Russia couldn’t afford to. In the time of Judges and early kings of Israel, awareness of hunger was acute, and proxy confrontations between Baal and the God of all things formed the foundation of the story of Elijah and the Widow of Arephath. During a drought and famine like today’s in Africa, Elijah’s needs were supplied by God – first by the ravens, and then by the widow whose inexhaustible store of basic foodstuffs never dried up, and last by the raising of her son from the dead – leading the widow to a perhaps-tentative faith in the God of all things. Of this (and other) Biblical miracles, Wendell Berry wrote “I don’t think it’s enough appreciated how much an outdoor book the Bible is. It is best read and understood outdoors… Passages that, within walls seem improbably or incredible, seem outdoors [to be] merely natural.” Janice raised a number of points to consider as we ponder the precariousness of our existence. In famine, the community failed to care for the widow, but God cared when Baal could not. How will our own society meet the same evil? Will we learn the same lesson of salvation through faithfulness? Such evil has consequences that ricochet for decades longer than we expect, and in the past, the church has often proved itself inadequate to meet the test of faithfulness. What will be different next time? Will we act consonant with “The Word of The Lord”, risk what the widow risked in trusting a God most of us know no better than she did, or will we sell our souls to avarice and look out only for our own? The opportunity is here every day, right now; if we forget, Jesus encourages us to remind ourselves, as Janice did, with communal prayer from Matthew 6; “Our Father, who art in heaven… give us this day our bread for tomorrow…” [AP]

Janice Kreider Henry Neufeld J Evan Kreider Erna Friesen 1Kings 17:8-16 Yes
Aug 14, 2011 Women of the Bible – Mary & Martha

Regent student Lydia Cruttwell focused on Luke’s brief account of the well known Mary/Martha story: two single women living with their brother. Drawing on her experience working in a bakery, Lydia talked about the amount of work involved in meal preparation. Even if Martha wanted to prepare a simply meal, the complexities at the time were enormous compared to our day: no refrigeration meant meat had to be freshly slaughtered, no yeast, and wheat had to be ground before baking bread. Martha, steeped in expectations to be good hostess, chose to welcome Jesus and his disciples. Martha publicly shames her sister in front of her guests. Jesus sweeps away her concerns and says Mary made the right choice. “If I were Martha I’d be angry,” said Lydia. Lydia then posed three questions about the story: Who is the host? Who is the guest? What is being served? When Jesus comes, he welcomes us – he is the host. Mary found this truth; Martha could not see beyond the literal food. If we pay attention to the guests we’ll begin to see Christ. (HN)

Lydia Cruttwell Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Titus Gregory Erika Hannan Lk 10:38-42; Isa 56:1-8; Ps 133; Ro 11:1-3; Mt 15:10-282 Yes
Aug 07, 2011 Women of the Bible – Puah and Shiprah

Henry Neufeld continued our summer’s series on Women in the Bible by talking on Puah and Shiphrah (who?) As midwives to the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 1.5-2.8), these gals were ordered to control the Jewish population by killing all the newborn males. While this bizzare strategy would hardly have curtailed the population, it does follow the genre of story in which a powerful personality attempts to stave off rivalry by killing off babies of the ruler’s sex (e.g., Herod). In this particular story, the baby Moses was hidden in a special basket, rescued by one of Pharaoh’s daughters, and nursed by his very own mother. Puah and Shiphrah defied national law, possibly committing the first act of civil disobedience recorded in scripture [Jesus later broke the law by breaking the federal seal on his tomb when rising from death]. This civil disobedience made the eventual Exodus possible. These two women are still honoured by some Jews today. So this is a story about subversive women–Puah and Shiphrah, also a story about the subversive actions of the mother of Moses and her daughter, to say nothing of Pharaoh’s daughter. Each of these women used ‘creative thinking’, sometimes lying, in order to oppose unethical laws. Thoreau once argued that Christians should not allow governments to alter their consciences. Where are the Puahs and Shiphrahs today? For example, why did none of our churches speak out against the war in the last election? [JEK]

Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Edward Epp Ex 1:6-2:8; Mt 14:22-33 Yes
Jul 31, 2011 Women of the Bible – Hagar

We were delighted to have Walter and Janet Bergen with us again, members from our very earliest days 25 years ago. Walter continued our summer series of talks on women in the bible by recalling the stories about Hagar (Genesis 16 and 21). Abraham obtained the slave girl he called “Hagar” during one of his visit to Egypt. Sarah and Abraham are portrayed as believing God’s promise that they would conceive a son, but as time passed, they took matters into their own hands by using Hagar the slave-girl as a concubine [she is called “wife” in Genesis 16.3, but still referred to as “your slave-girl” three verses later; concubines could be used as surrogate wombs and their children could be fully adopted if the master so decided]. However, Hagar’s success as a surrogate womb only made matters more difficult, for Hagar is not portrayed as being loved or rewarded by either Abraham or Sarah, nor as loving in return. She had merely been a tool to be used for their purposes. Hagar and Ishmael were unexpectedly expelled from the protection and support of the camp–against all local customs and practices–and left to die, being somehow sustained by God. Walter portrayed Hagar’s life as a story of sexual abuse, of treating a woman as an object rather than someone to be respected, and of a woman being discarded when she was no longer useful to the ‘real’ family. How would the story have differed if either Abraham or Sarah had ever shown love to Hagar? This sordid tale shows “Father Abraham” and Sarah as spiritual and ethical failures before they finally developed into people of faith. Are there any Sarahs in our lives, any Abrahams who need to be guided, or any Hagars or Ishmaels needing love and protection? [JEK]

Walter Bergen Evan Kreider Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Ge 16:1-6; Ge 21:9-18 Yes
Jul 24, 2011 Women of the Bible – Rahab

Rosie Perera continued our summer series on Women in the Bible by speaking on Joshua chapters 2 and 6 which tell the fascinating story of “Rahab the prostitute”. Moses had recently passed away and Joshua had emerged as the new military strategist. He decided that his first conquest would be the fortified city of Jericho. Rahab openly ran a brothel/inn, possibly as its madame, possibly as a retired former concubine of the king, and possibly because her family had rejected her and would not support her. She most certainly was not merely your ordinary inn keeper. She lived “in” the city’s wall, which placed her on the edge of Jericho’s society, protected yet vulnerable as a prostitute. We surmise that she was wealthy because she had enough flax drying on her roof to hide grown men from the king’s police investigation. Hers is a story of deception, which was considered acceptable in war then, as now. Yet her story is also one of an emerging faith in this Yahweh, whose followers were enjoying unusual success. The writer of The Book of Judges concluded that Rahab was saved physically because of her open expressions of faith, and notes that she saved all of her family (even if they likely had possibly not helped her because of her work) and that she saved all of the working women in her establishment. Rahab through her daughter-in-law Ruth, became the great grandmother of King David, and therefore an ancestor of Jesus. [JEK]

Rosie Perera Janice Kreider J Evan Kreider Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Jos 2:1-24; Mt 5:1-6; Jos 6:1-25; Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25-6 Yes
Jul 17, 2011 Women of the Bible – The woman who anointed Jesus

Chelle Stearns (Theology Professor) spoke on “The Un-named Woman” (Matthew 26.6-13), the second in our summer series on women in the bible. It had been a busy week for Jesus, with the ‘triumphal entry’ into Jerusalem got things rolling. The morning’s s story took place while Jesus and students were being hosted at the house of “Simon the leper”, who is otherwise unknown to us. Chelle approached the story through a painting by “Arcabas” (Jean-Marie Pirot) who has been working primarily in Saint-Hugues-de-Chartreuse but also in Ottawa. His paintings are often inspired by biblical stories, as is true for “L’Onction de Nard” (‘The Nard Ointment’, but Catholics would also read “extreme-onction” into the title, as in Last Rites). In this work we see the faces of Jesus and the woman at the moment at which she is pouring out the costly nard perfume (from the Himalayas) on the head of Jesus. Jesus is portrayed as accepting this unusual gesture or “anointing”. The woman is shown wearing the garb of an early-20th-c. nun, suggesting that she is declaring herself to be celibate, possibly (like nuns) being ‘married’ instead to Christ, and that the very expensive perfume represented the marriage dowry which she was forgoing in order to work with the poor (an interpretation added by later tradition). Her otherwise ridiculous act is portrayed by the gospel writer as being a prophetic anointing which proclaims the Jesus is the Messiah, something she was possibly led to do by the Holy Spirit. We, too, are called to be like this woman and name Jesus. [JEK]

Chelle Stearns Rosie Perera Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Helmut Lemke Isa 43:15-21; Mt 26:6-13 Yes
Jul 10, 2011 Baptism

Erin Teichroeb was baptized into faith in our congregation in a moving celebration conducted by Evan Kreider and Erika Hannan, and communion was served.

N/A Evan Kreider Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Peter Neudorf Baptism Yes
Jul 03, 2011 Women of the Bible – Naomi

Laura Eriksson began our series on Women of the Bible. As she researched her message, conversations with other women she knew about “what makes a good story?” inspired Laura to see in the story of Ruth and Naomi many reflections of her own experience, and evoked an inquiry into God’s moving in mysterious ways. Her curiosity is piqued by Ruth’s inclusion in Jesus’ lineage rom Matthew – how did she, a Moabite woman, get into Jesus’ background? The four hundred years of the judges were dark days for Israel, and the death of Naomi’s husband and two sons made her sojourn in Moab fleeing famine in Israel, an unhappy one. Her decision to return home to Israel to Bethlehem, to be redeemed by family relations and feel closer to God was sensible. So too was her daughter-in-law Orpah’s decision to remain in Moab. Ruth’s decision, however is magic, and rewards Naomi’s grace and blessing of her daughters-in-law with Ruth’s loyalty. Did Ruth see in Naomi’s love for her God a blessing for her own life too? We are not told. Her return to her hometown as the barley harvest was beginning evoked in Laura of the times of harvest on the farm on which she grew up. Ruth fits right in and contributes to the community, the extended family; and God and Naomi begin to bring about a future for her. As Boaz’s attention is drawn to Ruth, his obligation to “redeem” must be properly done, and celebrated in land and covenant. Thus through Boaz, a son to Ruth – Obed – became a father to David in the line of Jesus. Laura identified three themes. God’s kindness overshadows our bitterness, seen in Ruth’s loyalty, Naomi’s blessing and chesed to her daughters, and in Boaz’s treatment of the foreigner Ruth. Two: A kind of dignity is present in distress, and Laura told stories from her own past about the kindness of strangers giving her dignity. Three: Grief turns into gratitude. God’s mercy gives us the grace to go on in our grief, and gives us a chance to redeem our lives in gratitude, and Laura read from Psalm 116, which she noted could be Naomi’s Psalm. This great story of redemption and grace and chesed rejuvenates our faith in God, who asks us to do the same. [AP]

Laura Eriksson Henry Neufeld Andre Pekovich Ruth Enns Ruth Dignity in distress
Jun 26, 2011 “He is out of his mind. Why listen to him?”

John Neufeld’s experience as a senior led him to offer advice in his fresh look at John 10:1-20, a familiar passage to all of us. He noted that every senior needs a reason to get up in the morning; to practice curiosity as long as they can; and they need a sense of humour “because if you don’t laugh, you have to take medicine.” So John 10 made John curious about the obvious conflict raised for the Pharisees in Jesus’ words. The Pharisees had codified the law for so long that no new knowledge could disturb them, and the people themselves had lived a long time under that interpretation of the law – that is, until this new rabbi came along with God’s spirit upon him. John noted that the source of the controversial phrase “I am the good shepherd” (vs 11) came from Ezekiel 34 where Ezekiel speaks against the rulers of Israel saying “You shepherds [rulers] have not strengthened the weak, you have not bound up the injured, you have not healed the sick, you have not sought the lost….” Their apathetic self-seeking was a rich target for Ezekiel, who then says on God’s behalf, that he [God] would instead strengthen the weak, bind up the injured, and heal the sick, because the rulers had failed to do so. The Jews of the day would have known this passage well. When Jesus further says in vs 7 “I am the gate for the sheep”, the people would have known (a) Jesus was one with Yahweh, and (b) that God has returned to usurp the leaders of their power and irresponsibility because they have failed. So difficult was this thought for people that Jesus had to repeat himself. Third, Jesus notes in vs. 16 that “I have other sheep…” One can only imagine how the Chosen People would have reacted to the thought of one world, one flock, and one shepherd. This went completely against their assumptions – no wonder they thought him out of his mind. Though these words seem comfortable to us now, we should not forget their revolutionary intent, for they apply to us too. We are always invited to undertake a radical reexamination of our beliefs and practices. [AP]

John Neufeld Andre Pekovich Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Rosemary Bell Erna Friesen John 10:1 - 20 Yes
Jun 19, 2011 Worship in the Park

The Point Grey Ministerial Association collaborated on a worship service in Trimble Park during the Point Grey Fiesta.

N/A N/A N/A N/A Point Grey Fiesta Yes
Jun 12, 2011 James (continued)

In her second message from the book of James (Jm 1:19-27), Mariam Kammell noted that this letter was written by the brother of Jesus. James emphasizes that how we behave reflects how we feel about God. James was the one who welcomed Paul into the Christian family and he mediated the council sessions described in Acts 15. James had a towering reputation in the early church. Being quick to listen, slow to speak and even slower to anger requires humility and sometimes it means letting go of our right to be heard. It is in doing the “word” that the blessings are pronounced. Miriam said moral purity and concern for the poor go hand in hand; in doing the “word” we receive the blessings as we are forged into God. Encouraging us to be compassionate and merciful, she called for a return to the prophetic function of the church. What are our prophetic issues and where are our prophets? [HN]

Mariam Kamell Kevin Hiebert Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Titus Gregory Erika Hannan Jas 1:19-27 Pentecost Yes
Jun 05, 2011 James

Mariam Kamell, speaking on James 1:7-12, noted how we view God has serious implications for how we act, just as how we view our friends and coworkers affects how we relate to them. James does not present theology so much as a manual for living. It’s both wisdom literature in the line of Proverbs, with its theology, partly hiddne behind a presription for life; and it’s also in apocalyptic tradition as James presents God’s judgment at every turn. James bears warning as prophetic literature – if you do not choose God’s ways, you will be destroyed, so choose life and live. This is in line with Jesus’ commandment to the people “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” God is a covenant-making God (vs 12) who responds to faithfulness. Therefore we should submit to our trials with God’s promise of relief to us in our ears. We should resist temptation – to blame someone else, to succumb to our desires – (vs 13-15) for the outcome is death. It’s not God’s requests of us that cause us to sin, it’s our own resistance. When we act out of love for God, and obey his commands, we are assured of mercy from God. We are not told to judge each other nor God. He is above all a good and giving God, (vs. 16-18) especially when we approach God in our lack, giving us good and perfect gifts. The ethics in James become dos and don’t s if we do not love God. Let us love God instead. [AP]

Mariam Kamell Rosie Perera Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Edward Epp Jas 1:12-18 Ascension Sunday Yes
May 29, 2011 Sharing our stories

The church gathered at Camp Luther in Mission, BC.

N/A Andre Pekovich N/A Church Retreat - Camp Luther Yes
May 22, 2011 A Stoning

Morgan Tipton spoke about Stephen, the first Christian martyr. She noted that there are days when we do everything right (Stephen preached the gospel) and yet feel victimized. This feeling is likely based on thinking that we are the centre of the universe. “When things go well, I can see God in my neighbour,” she said. Things went well for Stephen when he preached the first Christian apologetic sermon and was stoned to death by the zealous Pharisees. Morgan acknowledged the Pharisees good intentions – to bring in God’s reign by intense study of the Torah. Saul, an observer at the stoning, subsequently developed a new relationship with God through his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He then stepped aside from his Pharisaical ministry for 13 years and came back as the Paul we know in the New Testament. The story of Stephen reminds us that our faith will also be tested, perhaps not in such an extreme way, but when we challenge authorities, face hostile people, or how we treat people who anger us. (HN)

Morgan Tipton Veronica Dyck Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Acts 6:8-8:1; 1Pe 2:2-10; Jn 14:1-14; Ps 31:1-2, 15-6 Yes
May 15, 2011 I am the Gate for the Sheep

Each of the three cycles of the liturgical year has the fourth Sunday of Easter focus on the Good Shepherd. Veronica Dyck noted that while we know about ‘racks of lamb’ in restaurants, we never observe the actual raising of sheep, particularly in the wilderness and mountains. In the day’s text (John 10), Jesus referred to himself as being the gate. Traditionally, the shepherd provided pastures for his sheep (who could not find them independently), protected the sheep (who were defenseless), and named each sheep (being able to account for each throughout the day). Shepherds frequently shared sheep enclosures for the night with other flocks and shepherds, sometimes even in caves where the sheep could be safe. Sometimes the shepherd actually lay across the doorless gateway to an enclosure in order to waken if predators approached and tried to enter. In the morning, each shepherd would call his sheep and only his sheep would follow. Jesus therefore spoke to his rural sheep-raising audience by referring to himself both as “the gate”, and as the good shepherd, saying that “my sheep know my voice” and “I know them by name.” By contrast, Jesus said that men who did not enter the enclosure through the gate were surely thieves (as his listeners would have readily agreed). His reference to thieves possibly referred to the wealthy temple class which freely fleeced worshipers without nurturing or assisting them. The worst fate some prophets could predict for Judah was that they would become like a scattered flock without good leadership. Psalm 23 suggests that even when our lives take us through valleys we never wished to travel, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, will be with us. [JEK]

Veronica Dyck Evan Kreider Erna Friesen Ruth Enns Ike Sawatsky Jn 10:1-10 Yes
May 08, 2011 Lectionary texts

Karl Brown asked us, “What if we’re all wrong?” Our lectionary readings for the day retold the death and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2), how we are therefore to live (1 Peter 1), and that if we do those things we will go to heaven (Luke 24). However, the Koran tells its readers to do certain righteous works and they too will go to heaven. But what if everybody is wrong? Thomas Paine, for example, published a criticism of religions generally. He believed there was a caring, loving God, but in his “The Age of Reason” argued that religion was not reflecting this God. He saw that contemporary religion in his day was evil, for none of us has a special connection with God or influence over God. He wanted worship without formalized religion, so he proposed “Deism”. He did not recognize any miracles some have attributed to God, nor did he ever see God intervening in history or appearing in visions. All of those would break God’s laws of physics, nature, etc. Instead, Paine wrote that God gave us our powers of reasons and we can learn to use it. As for Jesus, Paine concluded that God would never create a man just to kill him. By contrast, one modern (and very popular) preacher teaches that it is misguided to think that a few of us will go to heaven and all the others will suffer. Studies suggest that, in spite of what specific churches teach, most members believe that most people will go to heaven. In fact, institutionalized religion tends to focus on small current issues of the day (e.g., mode or timing of baptism, sexuality) and overlook ethical essentials. How do we know who is right? [JEK]

Karl Brown Henry Neufeld J Evan Kreider Titus Gregory Edward Epp Ac 2:14a, 22-32; Ps 16; 1Pe 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31 Yes
May 01, 2011 Trading anxiety and worry for awe and wonder

On May 1st, Joseph Dutko spoke about replacing anxiety and worry with awe and wonder. A man asks Jesus to “tell my brother to share the inheritance with me” and Jesus criticizes him for his selfishness. This is the context for Jesus comments about not worrying. Jesus warns about covetousness and selfishness; the best way to avoid these sins by faith. Joseph said we should fear God’s displeasure and trust his care; God’s cares for the sparrows is indicative of his concern for us… consider the lilies and the birds. We are not to be controlled by things, rather to seek the kingdom and these things will be given us. Did Albert Scweitzer, by leaving a successful life to provide medical care for the needy in Africa, find the kingdom? (HN)

Joseph Dutko Rosie Perera Veronica Dyck Peter Neudorf Acts 2:14a, 22–32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3–9; Luke 12:4-7, 22-24 Yes
Apr 24, 2011 Easter Sunday service of praise and song

We held our annual service of worship and prayer and singing to celebrate the risen Lord at Easter. Evan Kreider designed and led the service which followed the path of the Easter story through scripture, and we joined voices with song leading by Eric Hannan, and accompaniment by Ruth Enns. All this followed our usual Easter Sunday potluck breakfast which was delicious and well attended. [AP]

no speaker Evan Kreider Eric Hannan Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Easter Sunday Yes
Apr 17, 2011 Interfaith Bridge Building: Engaging Religious Viewpoints That Are Not Our Own

Phil Schafran (MCC) spoke on “Interfaith Bridge-Building: engaging religious viewpoints that are not our own”. Each of us has a tendency toward religious toleration, and a tendency toward religious intolerance. MCC sees this wherever it works around the world, and tries to start with its workers having a strong inner personal faith, which provides a firm foundation for a wide variety of challenges. From that foundation, its workers can cooperate with believers of other faiths on projects in which both faiths have a common interest, such as peace making and service. MCC assumes that by working with people of other faiths on common projects, we can learn from each other, learn what makes each of us serve, for faith reasons. When the government in Somalia decreed that Islam had to be taught in all schools, most Protestant missionaries closed their schools and left. But some Mennonites decided to stay and let Islam be taught in their school, because by staying, they could continue serving the students and community and quietly witness through their lives. Somalians later revealed that this proved to be a crucial turning point in their thinking about Christianity. In Acts 17, Paul participated in an inter-faith dialogue with Athenians. Paul knew enough about their various religions that he could find points of commonality, and from there he attempted to draw them into serious conversations about faith, including his new faith. In all inter-faith dialogues there will be understanding and misunderstanding, tolerance and intolerance. Paul did not emphasize differences which divided the faiths but instead identified where their beliefs coincided. Paul had mixed results, and we can expect the same, but this never deterred Paul from entering into still new cross-faith discussions. [JEK]

Phil Schafran John Friesen Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Rosemary Bell Edward Epp Acts 17:16-34 Palm Sunday/Annual General Meeting Yes
Apr 10, 2011 Lectionary texts (Psalm 23)

Janice Kreider focussed on two passages from Psalm 23: “you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,” and “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This is an unusual idea, eating a sumptuous meal while your enemies watch. Maybe the enemies were invited but declined, maybe they weren’t invited, maybe they excluded themselves. It is surprising that no emotion is expressed here; no fear or hatred is directed toward the enemy who watches you eat. This reminded Janice of Eleanor Kreider’s response when asked what mission might look like in look in a post-Christendom world. “It looks like neighbours and strangers gazing in the windows of the Christian community, longing for the invitation to join the bounteous meal spread on the generous table. “Dwell in the house of the Lord” should read “I shall return to the house of the Lord,” which reflects the reality of our journey and the fact that we can return to the house of the Lord at any time. The 23rd psalm is a reminder of God’s goodness and the comforting theme that God is with us and cares for us. [HN]

Janice Kreider Veronica Dyck J Evan Kreider Rosemary Bell Ike Sawatsky 1Sa 16:1-13; Ps 23; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41 Lent V - End of Year BBQ Yes
Apr 03, 2011 The God of Lost Causes

Joe Heikman, associate pastor at FUMC, has come a long way from his Pennsylvania Mennonite roots. His talk on Ezekiel 37’s valley of dry bones left us with many striking images of a prophet whose life was hard so that God might be glorified. Lying in the street on his side, cutting his hair with a sword, peaching doom and gloom to a population who didn’t want to hear him made the message only that much more powerful. Our call to hear the prophets of our own day may be similarly impaired – how can we distinguish the voice of God among the cacophony of voices – some reasonable and some raving? Joe suggested we pray for wisdom. [AP]

Joe Heikman Rosie Perera J Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Ezekiel 37:1-14 4th Sunday of Lent Yes
Mar 27, 2011 Mission in a Wireless Age

Ajay Caleb, a man with a heart for mission to those in the world with less opportunity, both to care for themselves, or to meet the Lord, led us on a journey to several places in the world where people in their daily living are hurt by lack of opportunity and breadth of vision, including himself. Of himself: a sea of black heads bobbing along the road on their way to work in India, gave him pause, and he asked “Lord, how will I help all these people?” And the answer: “One at a time.” Our task is not to meet the needs of the masses, but only those we meet. In north-east India, near the Bhutan border, Ajay met villagers realizing their vision for education and business possibilities while at war with Marxist guerrillas, and while on a morning walk, met the guerrillas themselves, realizing that though there was war, relationship of clan still held them together. The faith of others also sustains them, but may leave them empty of possibility, as told in a story of a woman whose womb remained childless. We should also not prejudge the results we get, as reminded in the story of meeting a risen Jesus along the road to Emmaus. We should not limit our vision by expecting the results we have always gotten – we should have faith and expect a new result. But we cannot start a fire in another’s heart without it burning in our own. What is our role in mission today? Do we have a burning to bring to others? Are we willing to serve as the Samaritan woman at the well did to Jesus? And will we, like Jesus, serve those deemed less deserving? We have an opportunity to minister here at home. Let us begin it now. [AP]

Ajay Caleb Don Teichroeb Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Rm 1:11-13 3rd Sunday of Lent Yes
Mar 20, 2011 Nicodemus (lectionary texts)

J. Evan Kreider spoke on John 3:1-17 enhancing our understanding of the tradition and the situation behind the story of Nicodemus’ relationship to Jesus in our touchstone passage in the Christian church “for God so loved the world…” Evan’s distinction between being “born from above” (rather than “born again,”) was an old Jewish tradition to emphasize a closer relationship with God without referring to God directly, as they were loath to do. Nicodemus also knew Gentile converts to Judaism were baptised with water, symbolizing starting over again as if being born like a child, but he never imagined that he, an observant Jew raised in the tradition, would have to do the same. It is difficult for us all to think outside our own spiritual traditions. But Jesus insisted God’s spirit washes impurities away, producing a new heart, rather than a newborn life. Jesus’ birth from above was tacitly agreed to by Nicodemus by acknowledgement of his miracle-working; thus could Nicodemus be reasonably asked to believe Jesus spoke with some authority about heaven. As Moses raised a serpent on high to save the wandering Jews who had been bitten by snakes from dying, so to was Jesus raised on the cross to save not just the righteous people of Israel, but all humanity, including Nicodemus. Mozart’s Requiem repeats this lesson as an artistic miniature; that despite obeying the law and the prophets, the young voice of a boy soprano asks how we are to face God alone with our sins along with us. John’s gospel, no matter how hard to believe, is no harder than believing a snake raised on high in the desert could save us. Give us the grace to believe. [AP]

Evan Kreider Henry Neufeld Deberah Shears Ruth Enns Ike Sawatsky Gn 12:1-4a, Ps 121, Rm 4:1-5, 13-17, Jn 3:1-17 2nd Sunday of Lent Yes
Mar 13, 2011 Julian of Norwich

Hannah Dutko focused her message on the life of Julian of Norwich, (1342 – 1416) a medieval woman, a mystic, and a religious writer. A recluse, she lived in a small cell in as an anchoress, a type of hermit who lives in a cell attached to the church and engages in contemplative prayer. At age 30, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, she had a series of intense visions of Jesus, God and the devil. She transcribed these visions in what is considered the first known autobiography by a woman. Twenty years later she wrote another series of reflections on her visions. She wrote so that people might understand the love and revelation of God. The times were difficult: the black death, the Roman church was in chaos (two popes) and Wycliffe and Hus were emerging activists. Julian, in exploring the meaning of suffering, rejects the idea of suffering caused by the devil; the devil seeks to promote despair and doubt; but Christ’s passion has overcome evil. Further, suffering is not punishment from God; Julian suggests a merciful theology and hope in God’s power. Her writings suggest confidence that God is at work. God answered her prayers by saying “I will make all things well; and you will see that yourself, that all things will be well.” The comment was made that it might be difficult to reassure people (“that all things will be well”) when they are angry or seriously ill. It is a message that should given in hope, to someone we know well. [HN]

Hannah Dutko Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Deberah Shears Erika Hannan 1st Sunday of Lent Yes
Mar 06, 2011 Transcendence

Sven Eriksson spoke on the gospel lectionary text, Matthew 17.1-9. So much in the story of the Transfiguration is beyond our comprehension, but it celebrates the great transition from the three years of ministry to the final week of difficulties, trials and death. (Peter reported his recollections very modestly in 2 Peter 1.16-18.) Jesus went to a “mountain” (not by B.C. standards) to pray with Peter, James and John–the same three men who would accompany him for prayer in Gethsemane (falling asleep both times). Nevertheless, the experience became a beacon for them, for God had entered their lives in an unexpected way. Are we ever aware that God enters our space at specific times and places? We, too, may have had our “Holy Mountain” experiences, answered prayers, meaningful dreams, thoughts or unexpected insights, but do we–should we–tell these extraordinary experiences to each other? What are we supposed to do with them? Dismiss the unexpected? Deny that transcendence ever happened, even when experiencing it? The three disciples were not prompted to do anything, only to be there, experience the event, and it was assumed that the event would somehow transform their lives. We, like Peter, want to take action, but the profound awareness of God entering our lives may best be understood as our being granted a glimpse of God’s glory which may then, somehow, become a beacon in our lives. [JEK]

Sven Eriksson Karl Brown Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Deberah Shears Edward Epp Ex 24:12-18; Ps 2; 2Pe 1:16-21; Mt 17:1-9 Yes
Feb 27, 2011 NO SERVICE – CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW

The service was cancelled due to snow.

Epiphany 8 Yes
Feb 20, 2011 With Christ to the Other Side: Re-discovering our Native Neighbors.

Steve Heinrichs spoke on a variety of subjects, such as (1) Jesus calming the sea (Mark 4.35-41), (2) the history of European Canadians taking over British Columbia, and (3) Mennonites attempting to relate to indigenous neighbours. This summary will focus on the gospel lectionary reading for the morning. Some travelers have the gift of sleep. Jesus slept right through the heart of a storm until awakened by friends. But the way this story is told in Mark draws interesting parallels to the story of Jonah. We first sense the deliberateness of these parallels when noticing that the teller refers to the tiny Lake of Galilee as a “sea”. This helps listeners recall that Jonah was also asleep on a boat while traveling through a storm on the sea. Both Jesus and Jonah were awakened by frightened fellow travelers, and both men found unusual and even supernatural ways to calm their storms. Both men were on a mission to the Gentiles, Jonah to Ninevah (to save them from certain destruction) and Jesus to Decapolis on the east of the Jordan, where he went to a Gentile cemetery (doubly unclean) and cast out demons (bringing salvation to the man and witness to the area). The ‘possessed’ man was obviously on the margins of his society. Steve then challenged us to leave the comforts of our church world and consider relating in meaningful ways to those marginalized in our society, especially indigenous peoples. [JEK]

Steve Heinrichs Andre Pekovich Evan Kreider Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Mark 4:35-41 Yes
Feb 13, 2011 Faith

Aaron Roberts (MCS Regent 2008; now in ministry at St. John’s Anglican) spoke on Faith about Romans 4:13-21. This dense, theologically-rich passage analyzed Abraham’s faith in light of his righteousness, acts, and observance of God’s words. First, Aaron reviewed God’s attempts to redeem humanity from its fall as He started over and over again, through different men such as Noah, through Abraham and Sarah, whose faith exacted from God promise of a nation, through giving of the Law, and finally through the living sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Then Aaron dissected the passage to show what faith can do by discussing what faith is not: It is not a leap in the dark – it is rational and trusting, as a young child has faith that father will catch it when thrown up in the air. Faith only considers the things God has promised, not things God has not spoken about, such as how to get more prestige. It is not person-centered, but God-centered, and growing faith inevitably sees one turning more to consider how God would want the faithful person to act. God will not be manipulated by faith – we cannot add to our faith by training ourselves to think and believe only the positive. Nor is faith a skill you can learn or a task you can accomplish or something you can accumulate more of. We can only receive it as we hear and believe the promises of God, just as Abraham did, who did not flinch when promised a son, as he considered the failings of his or Sarah’s bodies in old age. Faith does not close its eyes to the realities of life, but considers them and leaves it to God to work the way of his world. Nor is it true that if one believes something strongly enough, that it will occur – that is idolatry. Faith is not magic, and scripture cannot be used as an incantation. But with faith, God will restore humanity to its rightful place in God’s creation. A lively discussion time considered blaming God when tests reveal the limits of faith; that faith cannot be passive but acts decisively; that children model growing in faith as they turn from I-centredness to consideration of others; and the idolatry of prosperity gospel.

Aaron Roberts Henry Neufeld Eric Hannan Rosemary Bell Erika Hannan Romans 4:13-25 Yes
Feb 06, 2011 You are the salt of the Earth

Paul Thiessen spoke on the day’s gospel reading, Matthew 5.13-20, “You are the salt of the earth.” Even though many of us worry about consuming too much of the stuff, salt is essential to our health. Salt was so vital to ancient civilizations that it was often used as currency, included with food offerings to God, or even associated with covenants (called “salt covenants”). For centuries, drying and salting were the only known ways to preserve food. Right after giving the beatitudes, Jesus asked that we be the ‘salt of the earth’, that we be the ones to enact the beatitudes, fighting against the decay in society by being peacemakers and the children of God. Countless individuals have shown how we can, in small ways, be the ‘salt of the earth’. Villagers in France quietly hid Jewish refugees and helped them to escape to Switzerland, nothing earth-shaking as far as the war was concerned, but they were simply being ‘the salt of the earth’. Those who persuaded victorious Allied soldiers not to slaughter German prisoners of war were also enacting the beatitudes. The book, “I shall not hate”, exemplifies how one man’s peaceful stance and spirit of forgiveness, even when three of his daughters were killed by Israel’s missiles, momentarily changed the thinking of thousands. Peterson paraphrased the gospel reading nicely: “You are to be the salt seasoning which brings out the God flavours.” [JEK]

Paul Thiessen Rosie Perera Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Edward Epp Mt 5:13-20; 1Cor 2:1-12 (lectionary) Yes
Jan 30, 2011 Zionism

Andre Pekovich presented a review of the history of Zionism. 17th-century Europe saw religious persecution which resulted in multiple massive religious migrations, including Mennonites and Jews. As difficulties persisted to surface, publications in the 19th century eventually gave ethnic Jews a new way of thinking about themselves. Secular Jews in Austria (1897) lobbied governments to obtain safe land somewhere (anywhere, not just in Palestine). None of these early Jewish leaders were viewed as religious figures, only as pragmatic nationalists. (Christian Zionism began in the 1820’s, but that is an entirely different story.) Zionism was not created out of the holocaust, but predates it, and the so-called “holy land” was not all that important to early Zionists. However, as inexpensive land was purchased in Palestine from absentee Arab landlords, Jews started to migrate. By 1948 Jews owned and occupied about 6% of what they thought of as “traditional” Jewish land (though few would agree on specific borders for those lands). Palestinians were forced out of their traditional lands, in spite of inhabiting them for (presumably) centuries and possibly millennia. By 1948, with relatively little land under their ownership, a State of Israel was proclaimed, and citizenship was offered to all Jews regardless of country of origin and it was ostensibly to be denied to all non-Jews, even those legally inhabiting the land. In the context of the day’s lectionary readings, our allegiance is not to a particular nationalism but to God. God owns the land and allows peoples to use it, ‘if’ God’s covenant is kept in its entirety. Although no new lands were to be occupied after Joshua’s military triumphs, Jews repeatedly ignored this condition. Although the Prophet Samuel warned the Jews that God did not want a monarch to be established, they created a king anyway, and with the secular king came the secular notion of expanding the kingdom’s borders. Andre updated present thinking about the ‘promised land’ by reminding us that “the land we have been promised is Eternal Life.” Palestinian Christians have been in Palestine since St Paul went to Damascus. Why do Christians not decry their brothers’ and sisters’ loss of land, jobs and rights when they are persecuted by the State of Israel? The bible is not a manual for occupation, and certainly does not speak a language of subjugation and oppression, yet there are those in Christ’s church who are highly militarized, both ideologically and in reality. [JEK]

Andre Pekovich Erna Friesen Lisa-Dawn Kilthau Ruth Enns Henry Neufeld Micah 6:1-8 Epiphany Yes
Jan 23, 2011 Singing the Psalter

J. Evan Kreider led the group in a study of worship with the Psalter, an in-depth study of the history and meaning behind the Psalms, and the particular ways in which modern hymns bring the ancient texts to life, particularly in the rhythm of modern music, which is an exceedingly difficult thing to do well. Yet many writers have mastered it, and we heard some of the best. Evan lined up side-by-side the texts of eight hymns, such as #556; Lord Thou Has Searched Me; with the words of the appropriate Psalm – in this case, Ps 139 – and showed how the writers traced a path of imagery through the hymn just as it was in the Psalm, in some cases, line for line. Evan’s vast storehouse of historical knowledge brought out hidden detail in each hymn, and each of the arrangements had so much more meaning when the group finally sang in parts. The closing hymn’s gentle repetition of Scripture evoked the beauty and care of God in everyone who sang it. [AP]

J. Evan Kreider Veronica Dyck Andre Pekovich Deberah Shears Ike Sawatsky Psalms Yes
Jan 16, 2011 God’s Plans for You

Kevin spoke on “God’s plan for you”, looking at ways in which God has been portrayed in history, but seeing all of this through the eyes of modern office workers accustomed to Project Management. Kevin spoke of God “assembling the team” when creating the Trinity. God is often portrayed as “defining the project objectives”, the next typical stage in project management, and also as “defining the project’s scope”, which is finally seen as being global. God is at times portrayed as “constructing an initial plan and schedule”, for Jer 29 has God revealing that “I know the plans I have for you”, including 70 years in captivity. Even Jesus (Luke 14) spoke of “identifying resources, costs, risks” before undertaking a project. There are many instances in scripture in which God tried to get “stake holder buy-in” (Ps. 40.7-8: I delight to do your will). Next, one must publish the plan so people know about it, a plan with a series of decision gates which offer options, something often encountered in the prophets (buy in by repenting, or get out of the project). One then collects information, monitoring and analyzing the progress, often looking at it both with a wide-angle and with a telephoto lens. Next, one often needs to adjust the plan, hence the difference in revelation between the New and Old Testaments, and the expansion to include those not Jewish. Finally one closes the project and celebrates (Revelation 20). [JEK]

Kevin Hiebert Janice Kreider J Evan Kreider J Evan Kreider Peter Neudorf Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11;1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Yes
Jan 09, 2011 Baptism of our Lord

Gareth Brandt (Columbia Bible College professor of practical theology) spoke on “The Baptism of our Lord” (Matthew 3.13-17). We have only one story telling us anything of the life of Jesus between his infancy and baptism–the story of his lingering in the Temple at age 12. Consequently, Jesus suddenly emerges in this narrative as having been baptized, and in 3.16 we are given a rare allusion to what later has been thought of as the Trinity: the voice of God, the Spirit appearing “like” a dove, and the man Jesus. God’s voice proclaimed Jesus as a “Beloved son” even before he had done anything of significance in the gospel narratives. But in a sense, this is typical of the gospel accounts, for they often describe unconditional love being given. Gareth asked whether we have experienced being beloved, suggesting that only by our experiencing being loved can we, in turn, truly and deeply love others. The next chapter in Matthew concerns the temptations in the wilderness; what was Jesus, God’s “beloved son”, now supposed to do with this unconditional love? The gospels proceed, each in their own way, to record stories of how Jesus proclaimed the primacy of God’s love and how it can be expressed in our lives. [JEK]

Gareth Brandt Diane Ehling Veronica Dyck Ruth Enns Erika Hannan Matt.3:13-17 Epiphany Yes
Jan 02, 2011 Hope

Henry Neufeld told of Jeremiah being imprisoned by his government for not being patriotic and for continually criticizing government, even going so far as to declare that God was surely on the enemy’s side, not that of the Jews. When Jeremiah’s cousin offered to sell land to the prophet–land that was already under enemy control and was inaccessible to Jeremiah, he bought it anyway, a seemingly hopeless gesture which was intended to make a point: One should look ahead, with faith in God, and act accordingly. Hope can be merely a thought or it can be expressed concretely as an act. Jeremiah hoped that, in spite of the impending crisis, his future descendants would eventually live on this new parcel of land. In a similar way, he also looked ahead, in hope, to the time when God would be able to make a new covenant with people, one not extolling external regulations but rather one which internalizes moral and ethical values. Do we look ahead and act, in hope, in ways that will possibly benefit future generations long after we are gone? [JEK]

Henry Neufeld Sven Eriksson Erna Friesen Deberah Shears Edward Epp Jeremiah 31:7-14 Yes
Dec 26, 2010 Service of songs and carols

A service of readings and singing was held on Boxing Day to celebrate Christmas.

no speaker Diane Ehling Andre Pekovich Deberah Shears Henry Neufeld Christmas Day Yes
Dec 19, 2010 Signs of Hope

Don Teichroeb used the liturgical texts for that Sunday to examine who Joseph the Carpenter was as father to Jesus and husband to Mary, how the Holy Spirit featured in his life, and how the hope and promise we see in Christmas resists perversion from its origins in faith, truth and respect. We know little about Joseph, except that he was a man of integrity and character who, despite strictures of Mosaic law that would allow, even require him to divorce Mary when she was found pregnant with Jesus, instead demonstrated kindness, love and mercy. Don wondered at what Joseph’s misgivings must have been. But the Holy Spirit is seen at work, coming to Joseph as “reassurer”, as bearer of truth, that his son Jesus would bring God’s truth to all men, that Jesus was partner with the Spirit that was there at the Creation of the world, and that he who saw Jesus, also saw the Father, something never seen before in the world. Don pointed out that despite the world’s best attempts to debase Christmas with excessive feasting, gluttony and other sins, the sign of the Lord, as foretold in Isaiah 7:14 remains sufficient to fulfill not only the hope of meeting God in the everyday lives of ancient Jewry of that time, of Jesus’ own time, those of the early church, but also our own time where the sins of commercialism threaten to erase the enjoyment of the miracle of Christ’s birth and life. Like Joseph, we are called to patience and faithfulness. [AP]

Don Teichroeb John Friesen Ann Marie Neudorf Ruth Enns Erna Friesen Is 7:10-16, Rm 1:1-7, Mt 1:18-25 4th Advent - Christmas breakfast Yes Yes
Dec 12, 2010