Scripture: Esther 4:1-17
We’ve jumped right into the middle of the action in the book of Esther, so we should take a moment to sort out just what is going on. If you remember last week, I talked about the imminent danger the Jews were facing by surrounding enemies and nations. Well, it happened. The Jews have been taken into exile, and have been there for some time. Esther, the namesake of our book, has been chosen to be part of the king’s harem and has worked her way up to being queen. Yet, no one in the royal family seems to know she is Jewish.
The king is also a man of a simple mind, and has been persuaded to make an decree that all Jews should be killed. Just like at earlier times in the Old Testament, they are growing in population quickly. The dilemma facing Esther is for her to decide if she is going to make her heritage known and make a political statement as queen. She is being urged strongly by her cousin Mordecai to use her influence and her Jewish background to make a stand to save her people. This is where were are today when we catch up to Esther.read more…
This sermon is from our annual Light Up Service to kick off Advent.
Scripture Reading: Romans 8:23-28a
This is always such a special night in our church. It’s a wonderful tradition we have carried over from Wilson in Florence when they chose to close and join with us, and certainly is something we treasure here now at Carman. Even if it is a busy weekend for a lot of people and churches.
This is a wonderful time for our church to come together, for a variety of reasons. It’s the start of Advent, so what better way to kick it off than with a special evening service with great music with our wider church family.
Another reason is that it’s also a good time of year to honour loved ones. Whether this is your first Christmas without loved ones, or your 50th, there’s just something about honouring, remembering and cherishing these people this time of year; a time of year we think of them most often.
Scripture: Habakkuk 1:1-7; 2:1-4; 3:17-19
Have you ever had one of those days where nothing ever seems to go right? You spill your morning beverage. You somehow manage to burn your breakfast, even if it’s a bowl of cereal. The kids, pets, or your spouse has made a huge mess. The car breaks down. You’re late for work, appointments, or meetings. Every time the phone rings it’s some kind of scam. It’s just not your day.
What if that day became a week? What about a month? What if it was the “worst day ever” for a decade, or even longer?
Wouldn’t that just be a miserable way to live? Day after day, with no end in sight, of unrelenting “bad luck.”
In a sense, this is just what Israel is experiencing when the prophet Habakkuk is writing his book, only worse. The Hebrew people are under constant threat of extreme violence. Not very long before the prophet wrote, the Assyrian army destroyed city after city brutally killing the people who lived in them. read more…
Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:12-17
We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at the importance and the power of forgiveness. We remember that forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. Forgiving is also not the same as trusting. We learned about the physical, emotional, and spiritual toll withholding forgiveness has on us. We also learned Jesus has forgiven us, before we even had chance to do anything wrong, so we must be willing to do the same. In fact, he even commands us to forgive.
All along I’ve been promising you that we would finally get to the ultimate point, which is to learn the steps for forgiveness. And he we are These steps are helpful, and we can’t skip over anything, or else we’ll still be trapped in the negativity of being unforgiving. Each step is a part of the process of receiving healing from God in our lives. Forgiveness is not just for the other person, it is for us and our own physical, emotional and spiritual health.
I’m going to jump right into them today, because there’s a number of them, so you may want to keep track. At the end, I’ll try and give you a memory tool which will hopefully help you remember all the steps. read more…
Scripture: John 13:1-5
Have you ever had someone do something for you that took you completely by surprise? I remember a few years ago now, we stopped to eat at a restaurant, I think we were on our way back from going around the Cabot Trail, and there was someone there I knew. Not very well mind you. He was also a pastor and was eating dinner with his wife. I think we had only met very briefly once before. We acknowledged each other, talked briefly, and enjoyed our meals with our families.
As he got up to leave, he came over one more time, shook my hand, said good bye to my family, then paid our bill.
I was shocked, and thankful of course, that this man, essentially a stranger, paid for our dinner. He saw it as his way to support our family and my ministry. I suppose he remembered what it was like when he was just starting out with a young family. And now that he was approaching retirement, he was trying to give back. read more…