Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sermon: Lent 1, 2014

Unlike Gandolf wrestling the Balrog or Shelock wrestling Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls, Jesus refuses to throw himself off any precipice to grapple with any demon--the Temptation of Jesus story is not a moral allegory for the upright Christian life. Instead, this story challenges false dualism with a Christian Cosmology that insists on the supremacy of a Good and loving God.

This was, I felt a very strong sermon: conceptually sophisticated and interesting to think through. I enjoyed giving it very much. So much more interesting that the typical "avoid giving into temptation" kinds of sermons that this Sunday's texts usually inspire.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sermon: Last Sunday after Epiphany, 2014

The season of Lent, which prepares us for Easter, is bookended by two mountain top experiences: The scene of the transfiguration of Jesus on the one hand and his crucifixion of the hill of Golgotha on the other. One may represent the Jesus we want, the other the Jesus we get. In this sermon Tay explores those two poles for clues on how we know who this Jesus is through the synthesis of both revelations.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sermon: Epiphany 6, 2014

Nate Meidinger from Café Church, Kingston, describes their community's vision of Christian Community and encourages the Messiah Community as it continues to develop it's vision for doing church in a third-space.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sermon: Epiphany 5, 2014

One of my favourite sermons so far this year--God wants us to be bold and spicy!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Sermon: Ash Wednesday 2014

This was one of those homilies that came together with little effort. I was in the right spiritual place all day and knew it, so I really just had to preach out of my heart and BAM. It doesn't always happen that easily in the preaching life, but I'm happy when it does!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Another Update on Messiah Commons

The Messiah Commons Team meets weekly on Thursdays at 9.30am at the church--anyone is welcome to attend. Here are some updates from recent meetings.

We welcomed Duke Vipperman, Incumbent of the Church of the Resurrection, to come observe, share his experiences of missional renewal, and to speak about the role that the “Missional Transformation Process” might have in helping out efforts. “MTP” is the brain child of Messiah’s own John Maclaverty and his consulting partner Alan Roxburgh. It is designed to provide coaching support for parishes and priests making the leap to missional ministy. Messiah already made many tremendous progress in this regard, but MTP may be able to help the cultural change underway here.

At the meeting we spent time discussing last week’s Annual Vestry Meeting and the implications for our time-lines and plans. We are now reconsidering our rush to create a comprehensive renewal plan in time for the April 15th grant deadline and instead are exploring the feasibility of a series of pilot projects.

We also discussed ways in which to improve communication with the parish as a whole. It is imperative that we create more connections between the work of the mission team and the congregation. We committed to making more specific "asks" of the congregation for help and also to use other forms of connection including one-on-one meetings and monthly meetings of the Parish Council.

The renovation planning continues, and we discussed our thoughts about the two architecture firms who will be making proposals to the Messiah Community. Tay met with one of these architects again in his studio. Both firms are enthusiastic about the potential of Messiah and are eager to begin a collaborative and consultative process with our community. We discussed cultural change in congregation and some length and made plans for some new initiatives involving youth, adult education, and
missional outreach.

We have not received a substantial proposal from a possible business partner interested in running a café in our place, which is another good reason to push back the timeline. However, two parties has expressed his interest in making a formal proposal in the near future. In the mean time, the planning team is going to reach out to two or three more potential partners identified at the meeting.

Last week part of the team met with City Counsellor Adam Vaughan to talk through several issues raised by Messiah Commons and Messiah Market. The Counsellor was supportive and had some helpful suggestions to make. In particular, he suggested that the Messiah Market partner with the residents of 250 Davenport to do the Market on their lawn space. This has several advantages, first, there is plenty of parking in the underground structure there. Second, it would help provide food security to the residents of that building, who often feel priced out of the local food market. Third, it would allow up to partner with the city to provide not only a market, but possibly other social services to the neighbourhood. It was a positive meeting from which we took several ideas to pursue.

Next week we will be welcoming Bishop Yu to the meeting--so we talked through some of the things we thought it would particularly helpful to share with him both at the meeting itself and beforehand.

Several of the team bring specialized knowledge and skills that will be quite useful to us, and I honor their willingness to help our community. Valear Howsam, for example, is our former NCD coach and therefore knows this community quite well. In a previous life (she is now is seminary) she worked in marketing research and thus has extensive training and experience listening to what people want. We have business people and food people and an architect, too. Many others are hovering the wings, unable to commit to intensive involvement, but eager to help from time to time.

Our Wish List

Here are some specific things we want help to execute. These are volunteer opportunities for members of this congregation to push things forward.

Picture Survey of Neighbourhood
We need pictures, lots of pictures, of the church’s neighbourhood. From St. Clair south to Bloor, Spadina east to Yonge, we want picuters of people and places that help us to understand and describe the environment of the church. Speak to Tay to help.

Sign Changing
The sign on Avenue Road is an one of the main ways in which people connect with our church, particularly when it comes to special events and services. We need volunteers to take it on to change this sign, especially with so many events happening in the holy season of Lent and Easter.

Participate in Lunch-n-Learn
John Hill and Tay are working hard to create an amazing bible study for Lent. Please take advantage of it by staying after church in Lent. We are also eager to make sure we have activities kids during this time. If you can’t do that, consider at least cooking soup for those who can.

Interact with the church on Facebook and the website
The reach of the Facebook presence of the church is tied directly to how many people read and interact with the posts on it. If you are on Facebook, “like” and “share” posts from the church at least weekly. This is one of the most effective means of evangelism for some churches in our area.

Greet the people on Sundays you don’t know first
We are a welcoming church, but we could be even more so. After church notice the people at coffee hour that you don’t know, speak to them first before you chat with friends and old Messiah hands!

Keep Up-to-Date with our plans
There are several ways to keep in touch with the renewal efforts at Messiah. Besides the frequent updates given during announcements and sermons, or updates in the leaflet like this one, there are other methods. One place to start, especially if you are new to the work we are doing, would be the “Prezi” presentation that Tay created to summarize our work. Just browse to http://www.churchofthemessiah/messiahcommons. You can also read about it in the Messiah Messenger newsletter and the Annual Vestry Report. Tay, Charles, John, Meghan, and the rest of the team are also always happy to talk about the future of our church!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Evidence Comes in to Support the Fresh Expressions Movement

The culture changed, the (mainline) churches have responded with missional movements such as Fresh Expressions. We are just now, in the last few years, making these efforts in Canada. In the UK they have now been doing Fresh Expressions and other missional efforts long enough that we can do some serious evaluation about whether they have worked. Numbers aren't everything, for sure, but Jesus did say that you will "know them by their fruits." It seems reasonable to make in inquiry as to the affect of all this mission stuff. Here is what the Church Army Research Unit has found:

Church Growth Research Programme - presented by Church Army Research Unit from Church Army on Vimeo.

Is just a video summary, the written reports may be found in summary here and long form, full report, here. I haven't gotten deep into the reading, yet, but I have heard this work presented in a few different contexts and thus feel like I can speak to the bottom line which is this: it's working. Fresh Expressions of church are springing up all over the place and they are, indeed, creating Christian communities of people who would not otherwise be part of church. I'm thrilled because this convincingly demonstrates that we are talking about more than a flash-in-the-pan or flavour-of-the-month. FX are here and they are working.

It's an impressive report and I wish very much that we could do one ourselves here in Canada (even if we are a little behind them in terms of adoption of these strategies), but I'm told there simply isn't the money and scale to do this sort of research and evaluation. I'm frankly not sure that's true, but it's not a project I can really spearhead right now. Anyway, this is very encouraging news about mission!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sermon: Epiphany 2 2014

I was pleased with this sermon from Sunday. It went a little long (15 minutes) for this particular setting, but I thought it held together well and had something to say. All the readings appointed for the day were about naming and identity, and I wanted to talk about the act of naming is, itself, a spiritual endeavor worth talking about. This is probably I topic I will need to return to at some point--there is lots more going on here, but it's a nice start.