Sunday at Scarboro – March 18, 2018

Worship Start Time:  10:30am
Preaching: Rev. Erin Klassen
Theme: Lent V - The Time Has Come

The coffee is hot at 10:00am, come in and get comfortable. Service begins at 10:30 and is followed by coffee and conversation in the Memorial Hall.

Come and explore the season of Lent, our theme is "Promises, Promises". You are invited to experience your Lenten journey on the labyrinth in the Memorial Hall.

Co-op gift cards in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 are available after church until March 25, Palm Sunday. Use them to shop for your groceries or give a little something at Easter, a percentage of the proceeds goes back to the church.

Looking forward to Holy Week:

  • Palm Sunday will be an inter-generational service, with special guests, Arise Dance YYC. Communion will be served, and all are welcome to join in.
  • We will have a Maundy Thursday service on March 29 at 7pm in the Chapel. This simple service commemorates Jesus' commandment for his disciples to love and serve one another.
  • We are hosting Central, Knox and Chinese United here at Scarboro for Good Friday at 10:30am on March 30 - **Contact the office if you would like to volunteer and help host this service.**
  • Easter Sunday on April 1st will be a joyful service of music and celebration of Christ's resurrection.

Promises, Promises: Lent V – The Time Has Come
March 18, 2018
Rev. Erin Klassen

I wasn’t certain how I was going to enter into our Scriptures this week. I was discussing it with my family over dinner and my six year old said, “Mommy, I think I know what you can say in your sermon.”

I have her permission to share this and to quote her:

We’re brave.
We’re strong.
And God is always with us.

Yep.

As we say in many a clergy group, that’ll preach.

The people to whom Jeremiah was prophesying were in the midst of exile, it was a time that felt chaotic and uncertain. Into that anxiety and disorder, Jeremiah speaks words of comfort and assurances of God’s presence. The people to whom the Gospel of John was written were struggling to understand the identity of Christ and to get along in an increasingly diverse community. Into that difference and dissension, John writes with language and imagery that would have been widely accessible, indicating that Christ has come for all people. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Much time has passed and yet into our world of uncertainty and anxiety, of figuring out how to honour our diversity, the message remains the same.

Be brave, my friends, for we are strong and God is always with us.

 

Let’s talk about the passage of time for a minute, because once again, we have this very interesting interplay between the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures, this discussion of time.

In Jeremiah: The days are surely coming

In the Gospel: The hour has come

 

In this season of Lent - this time of contemplation and reflection - of journeying toward the cross while also knowing what is at the end of that road, there is this sense that the time is now, the hour is almost here. There is a sense of “already, but also not yet”. This is so often the feeling when we are dealing with the meeting of God’s time and our time. The ancient Greeks has two words for time, kairos and chronos. Chronos is sequential or chronological time, when it is mentioned in the Bible, it is a specific day or time or hour. Kairos on the other hand, has more of a qualitative nature, it is the right, critical or opportune moment for action. In the New Testament it means “the appointed time of the purpose of God.”

 

This is that time. In Jeremiah, in the Gospel of John, here and now. The crucial time of God and for God.

The days are surely coming”, says YHWH.

 

God is speaking to us in this time.

Telling us of God’s unwavering faithfulness, to us. Not the other way around.

In fact, God speaks of the covenant that we know so well, the one we discussed only a few weeks ago, the one signified by the Ten Commandments, a promise of freedom and hope. It is a covenant that we often struggle to live out.

 

Here, God reminds us of that covenant and makes another one with us. God speaks of being as close as a spouse, leading the people by the hand. Think of the people that you might lead by the hand, those that you would walk with holding hands. It’s a pretty intimate gesture. And yet, here is God saying that God wants to be closer to us than even that.

 

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts;
               and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

 

God’s love and the knowledge of God will be within us. We won’t have to teach each other about God, because we will just know. God will be as close to us as in our hearts. God will be in our hearts.

 

This is a promise of presence and faithfulness.
An unqualified announcement of redemption.
A note that any one of us, at any time can access the Holy, within us and around us - unrestricted and unmediated.
A statement: I am yours and you are mine.

 

Because, as humans go, we can sometimes be a bit obtuse, almost 700 years pass in chronological time until,

                Jesus, answered them, “The hour has come”

 

Chronologically, sequentially, much time has passed, but it is still God’s time, time for action and understanding. Because the idea of God’s covenant, God’s knowledge, Godself, being as close to us as flesh and blood is still tricky to grasp let alone understand and take to heart. So, God become flesh and blood and does walk among us.

 

Now, among those who had come up to worship at the Passover festival were some Greeks. They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put forth this request: “Please, we would like to see Jesus.”

 

With this request, the gospel writer signals that just like God’s law being written in the hearts of all the people, Jesus’ mission and ministry, is for everyone. Up until this point Jesus has been surrounded by a select few, and his teachings have been presumed to for the Hebrew people. Here, John through Jesus, or Jesus through John, is saying that is not so.

 

As one of my favourite worship writers, the Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell puts it, “This is the moment that God is doing something new - God is branching beyond the boundaries the people have known, including death, to bring new life, to become the new covenant in people’s hearts.”

 

Now, a couple millennia later, we are just as uncomprehending as ever. We struggle to make sense of what has been said and written. Unless a grain of wheat falls…? If you love your life you’ll lose it…? It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours…?

And when I am lifted up from this earth, I will draw all people to myself.

 

Even though we lose sight of God’s vision for creation and in Jeremiah, we hear God saying that God is not giving up - God’s word will be a living word (in us). In John, we see Jesus living this out as the word made flesh.

 

The time is still now. Kairos. God’s time. The appointed moment for action.

If we are uncertain of what action to take, let us turn back to the covenant, to the Scriptures.

 

In her book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott tells of “a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi, who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, "Why on our hearts, and not in them?" The rabbi answered, "Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside."

 

I invite you now to take some time, chronological and appointed, to consider what is written on your heart. Perhaps a word or a phrase, something that you know of God. If you aren’t sure, what is it that you wish was written on your heart?

Check out the latest news, updated every Friday: