From Beauty Queen to National Hero

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service11:00 am

Bulletin: November 11, 2018

Newsletter: November 2018

Scriptures: Esther 3:7-13; Esther 4:1-17; Esther 5:1-8

Songs:

Norma Holtslander

Esther was a beautiful young Jewish orphan. She had a strong sense of obedience shown in her respect for her guardian Mordecai and her love for God. Because of that she saved her people from yet another threat of genocide. She is definitely a national hero, still celebrated by the Jewish communities around the world in the feast of Purim. She went from Beauty Queen to National Hero. But where was God? This little book challenges us to ask ‘For such a time as this’ where is God for me? and what is he calling me to?

 

 

Hostility Crucifies – But Look Who Is On the Cross

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service11:00 am

Bulletin: November 4, 2018

Newsletter: November 2018

Scriptures: Esther 1-3, selected verses

Songs:

Rev. Joel Russell-MacLean

The man who ruled an empire which stretched from India, to Macedonia, to Egypt was comically(?) easy to sway. When his wife publicly humiliated him she was replaced with someone appropriate submissive, who still managed to steer him to her own ends.

There are several comic reversals but underneath, Esther is a dark story of kill or be killed. The Jews were dispersed in exile and at the mercy of pagan leaders everywhere. Enemies sought to use their influence to wipe them out. Centuries later, this ongoing tension between Jews and the Gentiles in power would play into Jesus’ crucifixion. By taking the place of a victim Jesus changed how we looked at hostility.

But where was God?

Perhaps the author of Esther meant to make a point all the more forcefully with God’s total absence. Even without saying a word, even without being seen, God’s purposes were accomplished.

The Song In the Garden

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service11:00 am

Bulletin: October 28, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

ScripturesSong of Songs 4:9-5:1Psalm 84Luke 13:18-19

Songs:

Joel Russell-MacLean

“And everywhere there was song and celebration … and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”*

What is the best song in the Bible? According to God’s word it is the “The Song of Songs”: the songs of two lovers celebrating love, longing, and delight in each other in explicit, physical, sexual language.

Many gender stereotypes past and present disappear. The woman sings as the equal of the man, and equally directs and celebrates their love.

Their love is compared to a garden. We can’t help but think of Eden reading this story. This greatest of songs takes us back to the garden but not in an “anything goes/free love” kind of way.

We can only say it is a song about sex if we let the song redefine sex for us. There is no focus on sex itself. There is no self-gratification here. Over and over again, one lover is delighting in the other. There is no moving from one person to a new lover. They belong to each other. But the lovers do not sing alone, the neighbourhood itself joins in the chorus. Everyone is blessed by this relationship.

*Joni Mitchell (My favourite is the CSN&Y cover)

Made For Love – Made For God

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: October 21, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

Scriptures: Song of Songs 1:15-2:7Psalm 63Ephesians 5:21-33Matthew 11:28-30

Songs:

Rev. Ron Phillips

Did you know that there is romantic poetry in our Bible? Have you ever read Song of Songs, and wondered what to make of it? This Sunday we will open this little book, and be ready to hear God speak.

Men and Women and the Need for Virtue

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Learning for Life: 9:30 am 
Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: October 14, 2018

NewsletterOctober 2018

Scriptures: Ruth 3-4; Psalm 17

Songs:

Rev. Joel Russell-MacLean

After a long day’s work at harvest time, the people in the village had gone to bed. In the middle of the night, in the dark of a night without lights, a woman silently approached a man fast asleep. Uncovering him, she laid down next to him.

Even 3000 years later and in different language, this is a dramatic scene. Just what kind of story is this?

Ruth doesn’t hide the threats women faced or the risks they took in the face of famine, poverty, or assault. Ruth is also clear about the ambitions and longings of the women in their story.

As the story moves toward its resolution, we also find ourselves momentarily in the men’s world and priorities: the village hierarchy, the legal proceedings, the record of the male line, and the promise of a future king.

Men and women in Ruth have different longings and social roles. The drama plays on the tension between these differences. However, Ruth presents men and woman as complimenting each other when virtue and faithfulness control them.

Ruth and Boaz’s loyalty was not first of all to each other: they trusted God ahead of everything else.

Ruth and Boaz risked everything by going far beyond what was expected of them, trusting in God’s loyalty and kindness in their risks. Through their relationship, God blessed the community far beyond all the prayers and longings of the men and women of the story.

———

Jane Austen captured (among other things) the tension between virtue, and longings and ambitions of men and women, in her novels. In this scene from “Pride and Prejudice, she gently exposed one way we go astray: “The Accomplished Woman

 
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