Dear friends, it is wonderful to be here again at St. John’s Anglican Church! The folks who sing in The MixedAbilities Choir and I, always enjoy sharing in worship with your church family.
Today, as always, I hope to bring a good Gospel message about hope and love for you; a message about Jesus’ authority, His saving Grace,
and how loyalty to God, one another as servants and disciples of Christ, who, as we persevere on our journey together as a community of believers, we trust that death does not get the final word. God does!
As I contemplated the scripture passages for today, I was most touched and intrigued by the story found in Ruth 1:1-18. The book of Ruth is a short story located between the book of Judges and Samuel and is not concerned with national or international affairs.
Rather, the story of Ruth is about family relationships – between husbands and wives, children, in-laws, and kinsmen. In my estimation
Ruth’s story has got it all…women’s struggles, living as a refugee in a foreign land, deep commitment in personal relationships, intermarriage, grief, loss and bereavement; and, tough decision making when one is facing an uncertain future.
I think that the women portrayed in Ruth’s story get it right, for their love for one another, their well being even when in uncertain and scary situations such as the ones noted before; the loss of a provider, and grief have potentially alarming outcomes for all in the family.
And, speaking of dependence on God for our well being; we can look at the passage in Mark 12:28-34 through a similar lens of close personal relationship with God when one finds oneself in challenging circumstances.
The teaching of Jesus in this passage in Jerusalem is confrontational.
Jesus enters the temple three times, and each time the encounter with the current temple practice becomes more and more intense. As Jesus enters the temple for the third time, the question of His authority is raised.
Mark continues Jesus’ teaching of the religious leaders by setting the next stage with a parable and a Psalm which leads to our texts as one of the religious leaders comes forth to put Jesus to the test with a series of loaded questions.
Jesus answers the scribe’s question concerning what is the foremost in the Law: “Which commandment is the first of all?”….He answers the question not only with the first commandment citing Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord Alone. You Shall Love The Lord Your God With All your Heart, With All Your Soul, With All Your Might.” And, adds a second commandment “You Shall
Love Your Neighbour as Yourself” from Leviticus 19:18.
Psalm 146 speaks and sings out loud and clear about Loving the Lord…depending on the Lord and Trusting God’s Abundant Love for us.
Hebrew’s 9:11-14 asserts Jesus’ position of power and of His power in the offering He makes in His sacrifice for us. The author of Hebrews suggests that Jesus’ offering of His life; is a sacrifice that cleanses us internally and externally so that we can, by receiving this gift of His Grace and Salvation, offer ourselves, healed and whole to serve God and neighbour.
So then, how does a modern day preacher tie all these messages up in a nice presentation for their hearers on the Sunday closest to November 1st, known in the Church calendar as All Saint’s Day…and, furthermore how does a Chaplain for The Royal Canadian Legion Branch#118, and Chaplain for North Shore Veteran’s Council of Canada, and a professional Accredited Music Therapist who journeys through what is known in our community as Remembrance Week offer a good Gospel message of hope and love for our family, friends, clients, neighbours and Veterans in our community?
I pondered on the story found in Ruth, and found that family relationships, bereavement, strangers in a foreign land, dependence on God, neighbour and country, and the beauty of music with it’s wonderful power in a therapeutic and sacred setting to heal and restore broken lives and hearts.
And what a gift of Jesus’ loyal and Amazing Graceful and saving Grace is.
Jesus’ example for those of us who serve our God, neighbour and country is powerful!
And, as Remembrance Day is coming up this Sunday November 11th; we will be commemorating as a loving community; the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day on November 11th, 1918. We can and should be mindful, respectful and offer our support and prayers for those who valiantly offered themselves in a terrible war. A war where over 650,000 were killed; and many returned home maimed, broken, “shell shocked”, looking at uncertain futures for themselves and their families, comrades and neighbours. So much loss!
So, I travelled back in time in my mind, and wondered how a preacher or Chaplain or servant of Christ might offer a word of Hope and Love in such terrible circumstances?
Perhaps, just, as we do today; that preacher might have studied God’s word carefully and confidently looking for words of comfort and encouragement, taking his or her strength in the companionship of Christ, and depending on God for guidance through difficult times and demonstrating his or her unshakeable faith and belief that the resurrection story can be depended upon to carry us onward like soldiers marching together, serving one another, our neighbour, our country, willing to take a risk; willing to risk our lives in service for God family and neighbour.
It takes great fortitude and bravery to say “Yes!” to give one’s life in the Services that protect our country and communities.
As I take part in Remembrance Week activities, poppy tagging or providing leadership at the Cenotaph as one of our community’s Chaplains; I enjoy meeting the folks who honour our Veterans and their families
In this coming Remembrance Week, I urge you to make a donation and wear a poppy proudly in support of our Veterans. And continue to pray for Peace. And celebrate the end of World War 1, the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day. “Lest We Forget!”
Bt Jill Parsons