Summer Sundays at Scarboro

Worship Start Time: 10:30am
Theme: Our Favourite Stories 

Come to Scarboro as we worship together every Sunday. We will have the coffee on at 10, so come early and catch up with your community.

This season we are exploring some of our favourite stories, and interpreting them through the lens of our faith. Come and hear a new take on an old favourite.

After worship, come down to the Marilyn Perkins - Memorial Hall for coffee or tea and some good conversation.


Important dates to remember:

July 14: Annual Pancake Sunday Celebration

Sep 1: Calgary Pride Parade - will you be marching?

Sep 11-14: Photo appointments available for our new & updated Scarboro United Church directory

Sep 29: Orange Shirt Day - order a shirt from the office, designed by Indigenous artist, Bear Horne

Oct 19: Fall Fest - collecting books, jewellery and artwork for sale, along with the usual baked goods & oatcakes!

 

Check out the latest news, updated every Friday:

Sunday at Scarboro – Aug 26, 2018

Worship Start Time: 10:30am
Theme: Summer Church

It's summertime in Calgary! Come to Scarboro as we worship together every Sunday at 10:30am. We will have the coffee on at 10, so come early and catch up with your community. Throughout the summer we are offering opportunities to incorporate the arts into your worship experience. Come and see what we are up to this week! There will be more time for coffee, tea and conversation after the service in the Memorial Hall.

The children's theme this summer is "Exploring Spirituality through Science & Play" - so come and explore at Scarboro!

REMINDER: Next week is PRIDE - we will be marching with our friends at the Affirming Network, carrying the Scarboro banner proudly. If you would like to join in, please chat with Sharon Woodhouse this Sunday. There may even be some room on the float if you have mobility concerns. (Walkers and riders should be in place no later than 10:45am on Sunday, Sep 2. Come at 9am to help decorate!)


August 26, 2018 - Message: Ephesians 6.10-20

Rev. Erin Klassen

What we have here today is a passage with some really strong imagery. In fact, it is really hard not picture a person, a soldier, clad in all the armour named - belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes to be ready, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

 

I alternate between really loving this particular passage and wanting to just toss it out the window.

 

I originally learned it as a song at summer camp, and like so many of those, it is incredibly catchy and really sticks with you:

I've got my feet shod

With the preparation of peace

Got my sword of the Spirit

My shield of faith

Got my breastplate of righteousness

Helmet of salvation

I put on my armor

And I'm ready for the battle

Ready for the battle!

 

And there’s the real catch for me, that battle imagery. It is hard for me to stomach. It directly contradicts with my Mennonite heritage, and my peace loving heart.

 

And, as we well know, it is all to often that the sword of the Spirit, which this passage tells us is the word of God, is used as a weapon.

 

There’s this scene from the movie Saved! that is one of my most favourite of all time.

A teenager named Mary, becomes pregnant. She attends a Christian high school and is struggling, her minister asks her friends to reach out to her. They do this by attempting a kidnapping and exorcism. When she is justifiably angry about the whole thing, they begin to argue, urging her to “turn away from Satan” and accept the love of Jesus. She replies that they don’t know what love is, one of them throws a Bible at her, yelling “I am filled with Christ’s love!”.

Mary picks up the Bible and says, with frustration and anger and disappointment, “this is not a weapon.”

 

But there are times when it has been used that way.

To justify racism and slavery, abuse and residential schools,

To cause harm to those making incredibly tough decisions around their relationships and bodies, with divorce or abortion,

To deny the personhood of our LGBTQ+ loved ones,

To help those in power consolidate and strengthen their position.

 

It is a shameful part of our story, and in the United Church of Canada, we want to declare that it is most definitely not our style.

We want to say: “I’m a Christian, but I’m not that kind of Christian”

 

The problem is that using the Bible as a weapon is not Christian in the least.

Because what it has been and is being used to justify is exactly what this passage is fighting against.

 

Our struggles is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil.

 

As foreign as language of evil is to our ears, this does sound somewhat familiar...

As we struggle in our own time with evils that rob people of justice and dignity, we realize that Paul’s time is similar to our own. And Paul is reminding us that being faithful to God can (and should) sometimes put us at odds with the world in which we live.

 

When this letter was written, Roman soldier were patrolling the streets. Christianity was a fringe movement, considered radical and subversive. And it was. Possibly still is.

 

This passage proves it. In it, Paul uses the imagery of a Roman soldier, and turns it on its head.

 

We picture physical, visible, armour. But the armour of which we speak, is all invisible. These are not things, but virtues, moral beliefs and behaviour:

The belt of truth,

The breastplate of justice,

Shoes of zeal or “whatever will make you ready” to proclaim peace,

The shield of faith,

And helmet of salvation.  

 

I find it interesting that we are not told to go find these things, but to put them on as if they are already in our possession. We already have all of this. This is our inheritance as children of God, our promise as disciples of Christ. It is also a reminder that our faith is something that we need to take on everyday, like armour or clothing, we chose to put it on to face the world every morning.

 

More interesting, if this were actual armour, it would be the world’s worst. It is all defensive in nature. It is all meant for protection and the instructions that come with it are to resist and stand firm, and to pray.

 

The spiritual garments of the faithful, what we are to put on, as those who call ourselves Beloved of God, and Followers of Jesus, are meant to hold us secure in our faith, not to threaten or overpower someone else. More than that, the Roman shield that is brought to mind here, it was huge. Big enough to cover yourself and approximately one third of your neighbour. So when our faith is lacking, if we have lost it somewhere in our daily battle, our neighbours, those around us have enough to cover us while we get ourselves sorted.

 

The only weapon amongst our armour is the sword of Spirit, which we are told is the word of God, and it is meant in defense. You know what else, is called the word of God? Jesus, the one who came into our world as Love Incarnate. Love, our first and last line of defense is love.

 

What do you need to steel yourself against?

What is the armour that you are putting on?

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Sunday at Scarboro – Aug 19, 2018

Worship Start Time: 10:30am
Theme: Summer Church

It's summertime in Calgary! Come to Scarboro as we worship together every Sunday at 10:30am. We will have the coffee on at 10, so come early and catch up with your community. Throughout the summer we are offering opportunities to incorporate the arts into your worship experience. Come and see what we are up to this week! There will be more time for coffee, tea and conversation after the service in the Memorial Hall.

The children's theme this summer is "Exploring Spirituality through Science & Play" - so come and explore at Scarboro!

REMINDER: Get your t-shirt orders in for Orange Shirt Day - EXTENDED to Thursday, August 23! Shirts are $25 each with proceeds going to support reconciliation initiatives. Design by Indigenous artist, Bear Horne of Victoria, BC.


August 19, 2018 - Message: Psalm 111

Rev. Erin Klassen

 

What do you fear?

Grasshoppers

Needles

War

God?

 

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

 

What comes to mind for you when you hear that?

 

What does that mean?

 

Is ours a God that we need to fear?

Is that a God we want to believe in?

If not, does that make us fools?

 

I can’t help but think of Psalm 27, the opening of that being:

God is my light and my salvation;

   whom shall I fear?

God is the refuge of my life;

   of whom shall I be afraid?

 

So are we afraid or not?

And just who is it that we are supposed to be fearing?

 

Let’s spend a bit of time unpacking that.

 

Russell Rathburn says: “Any Christian Hebrew scholar will tell you that fear doesn’t mean fear like we understand it, that a better translation is more - understanding the awesomeness of the love of God.”

 

But still, where does that leave us?

 

Why does it continue to be translated as fear? Why doesn’t someone fix the translation?

 

There are other translations:

The good life begins in the fear of God. (MSG)

The way to become wise is to honour the Lord.(GNT)

Reverence for YHWH is the beginning of wisdom.(IB)

 

Is there wisdom in there?

 

My colleague the Reverend Mindi Welton-Mitchell agrees that fear is a harsh word. But argues that it is used for a reason here: because this is the God of all creation, mighty and powerful, the one who holds our lives in hand.

 

She agrees that while there is fear, there is also this “awe-inspiring nature of God of who is beyond our understanding. Holding that tension of awe and fear is what grounds us into living in God’s ways.” Without that fear, she argues, we would simply seek our own ways, solutions and desires, and we would come up empty.

 

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

 

So what then should our relationship to the divine be?

 

Luckily, this psalm tells us.

What we have here is song of praise and thanksgiving. It is an acrostic poem, meaning that each line begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.The lines are short, only a few words each, but they pack a lot of meaning in.

 

What we have here is essentially God’s CV or curriculum vitae. It’s essentially a resume. The words curriculum vitae are Latin and loosely translated mean: the course of my life.

 

This psalm bears witness to all God’s works - the Exodus, the Covenant, manna and quail in the wilderness, and the establishing of the heritage and homeland of the people. This is a catalog of all that God has done and will continue to do for us. Liberate us, guide and provide for us, and then welcome us home.

 

The works of God are described as great, full of honour and majesty, faithful and just. These works have been studied and gained renown. God’s commandments, the covenant, are sure and established, standing firm as they are carried out faithfully.

 

This description of God, and what God has done and will continue to do, is one of a God of promise and compassion and love. Our God is to be praised for all this.

 

Indeed, we begin this psalm with praise.

 

Alleluia! I will thank you God, with all my heart.

 

Psalm 111 is the first of several Hallel Psalms, so named because they begin with the Hebrew words, Hallel (praise) and Yah (a shortened version of Yahweh).  Again and again, God’s people are called to praise their covenant making and keeping God.

 

We are called to praise God with every fibre of our being.

 

Hear, O Israel: YHWH, our God, YHWH is One!

You are to love YHWH, your God,

with all your heart,

and with all your soul,

and with all your strength.* (wealth/substance)

Let these words that I command you today

be written in your heart. (Deut. 6.4-6)

 

So we sing to God with our whole hearts, every bit of substance that we have, and that praise expands to include those gathered around and then the whole congregations. Much like the abundance of God’s promises, joyfulness and gratitude also expand to all God’s peoples.

 

We sing of thanksgiving and awe.

It is here that praise and fear go hand in hand.

We don’t like to think of fearing God, but it is possible to fear disappointing someone that we hold in high regard, someone we look up to, someone we love dearly.

 

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

 

But it is more than that as well.

 

Those who practice it have good understanding.

 

I am especially taken by the way that Stan Mast turns this phrase on its side.

He wonders: What if the fear of God isn’t an emotion, but an action, or a set of actions?  

 

To fear God means to live by God’s precepts, to abide by God’s covenant faithfully and earnestly. To put God’s compassion and grace at the center of our lives and then act accordingly. Being wise, understanding how to live in the world, begins with being true to God’s promises.

 

Because if we turn the page in our hymn book and our bible, we will find that the Psalm 112 is similar in language and form. In fact, Shauna Hannan tells us, it would appear that the two Psalms belong together; both are acrostic poems, which contain twenty-two lines with each line beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Even more, they use similar words and phrases: referring to the upright, who are gracious and merciful, providers, and doers of justice. Both sing of the promise of the the future (in 111:8 the works are established forever and ever, and in 112:8 hearts are steady and in the end will triumph).

 

The amazing thing about this similar use of language is that one Psalm (111) is focused on the work of God, as noted above, and the other (112) is focused on the actions of those who “fear” God.

 

So it would seem that not only are those who fear God expected to act like God, but those who find great delight in God’s commands are capable of mirroring the deeds of the God.

 

It is important to note that it is Psalm 111 that comes first; it is only because our Lord is already gracious and merciful and just that we are at all capable of being gracious and merciful and just.

 

And that does fill me with awe and fear.

Amazement at what we are capable of, and trepidation at the responsibility.

Let us hold that in our hearts.

And then let it expand to all of Creation, sharing the love and works of God.

 

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,

Those who practice it have good understanding.

May your praise endure forever.

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