Monday, May 29, 2023

Looking Ahead to June 4, 2023

This is the first Sunday of the month and so we will be celebrating the sacrament of Communion;

The Scripture Readings this week are:

  • Matthew 28:16-20
  • John 20:19-23

The Sermon title is Be the Church

Early Thoughts: We are called to be the church. Not called to go to church. Not called to support the church. Not called to say the right words of faith or sing the hymns. (Though those all may be good things in and of themselves) We are called to BE the church.

How do we do that? What does it mean to be the church?

These passages this week both come from the end of their respective Gospels. After Easter Jesus give his disciples instructions. In both cases the instructions are about going out into the world. The Risen Christ does not tell his friends to sit around and tell each other the stories. He tells them to go out into the world, to share the story, to share the promise, to share the hope.

How will we be the church? Are are we the church today?

We gather together as a community of faith to remind ourselves of the story, the hope, the promise. We read the scriptures and sing the hymns and say the prayers. We reflect on how the old story intersects with our story. But in then end we gather together, we do all those things, to gain wisdom and strength so that we can be the church in the world.

Our lives, hopefully, are our testimony. How we live, how we interact with the world around us, how the world is different because we have passed through are signs of how we have chosen, as people of faith, to be the church in the world.

Like Peter and Andrew, Mary and Martha, and so many others over the centuries Jesus calls us to follow The Way. Like them Jesus also sends us out into the world. Teresa of Avila wrote a poem which begins "Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours," (read the full poem here -- this poem is referenced in #171 of More Voices). If we are to be faithful we have to go out and be the church.

Will you join me in being the church? Will you help me tell the story, share the promise, spread the hope, pass the peace in the world?

Monday, May 22, 2023

Looking Ahead to May 28, 2023 -- Pentecost Sunday

The Scripture Readings this week are:

  • Numbers 11:24-30
  • Acts 2:1-12

The Sermon title is Spirit-Infused Life

Early Thoughts: What would our live look like if we allowed ourselves to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit? How do and could we make a difference as people infused with the power of the Spirit?

Pentecost Sunday is commonly called the 'birthday of the church'. The story of the Holy Spirit breaking in to the Upper Room where the disciples have been staying (hiding? laying low?)and driving them out to proclaim the Good News (or Gospel) marks the beginning of a transition of the Jesus movement from a small group of followers to something that will eventually reach across the world. The Church begins, according to this story, not with Easter but the infusing of the Holy Spirit.

Blown out, driven by the Spirit, Peter and company can not contain themselves any longer. The hope which was born on Easter spills out and they have to tell everyone they meet. [It is totally unclear to me in this story if Peter and company speak all those various languages or if the Holy Spirit causes the words to be heard in a language that would be understood, regardless of what language is actually being spoken. Maybe Pentecost is the first recorded instance of a universal translator.] When the Spirit fills them to the brim it changes how they act, it transforms them.

A similar thing seems to happen in our story from Numbers. Here we have two examples. First the Spirit of God rests on the 70 elders of Israel and they prophesy while the Spirit is upon them -- but only then, they stop when the Spirit departs. Then there is the case of Eldad and Medad. It appears maybe they were supposed to be with the 70 in the first part of the reading but did not go -- maybe they missed the bus? Still the Spirit of God fills them and they begin to speak. Some think this is a problem. Some think Eldad and Medad are out of line.I wonder if Joshua sees it as a threat to Moses' authority? Moses sees it as a great gift. As one who knows what it is like to be touched with God's Spirit Moses, it appears, has different eyes and ears to understand the situation.

It seems that being filled with the Spirit is dangerous. It seems that it removes control from us. Sometimes the threat is felt by those who find themselves moved to do and say things they would not otherwise (I think of all those call stories in Scripture where the person being called express great reluctance to accept the call). Sometimes the community around them feels threatened and wants to do something to calm things down.

In The Last Battle, the final book of C.S. Lewis' Narnia cycle, we are reminded that Aslan, the great King from over the sea (who is clearly an allegory for Christ in the Narnia books) is "not a tame lion". Many times in the Narnia stories Aslan causes, orders, or leads people to act in ways very different from their first impulse. Not only is Aslan untamed, he causes people to act less tamely. When we embrace the Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, when we allow them into our hearts and souls their wildness may infect us. We might become a little less domesticated. {That might not be a bad thing, it is often a little terrifying.}

Maybe there is a reason why wind and fire are two common symbols for the Holy Spirit.

I wonder if we too often play it safe. I wonder if we resist letting ourselves be overtaken by the Holy Spirit infusing our lives. I wonder if sometimes we are like Joshua and want to shut down those who have been inspired by the Spirit when we should be like Moses and see it as a great gift. Maybe we need to allow ourselves to be blown around a bit. Maybe we need to raise our sails and feel the winds of God today.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Looking Ahead to May 21, 2023 -- 7th Sunday of Easter

 As we conclude the season of Easter we also conclude our journey through 1 Corinthians 15 with verses 24-26 and 50-58.

The Sermon title is The Final Victory

Early Thoughts: Linnea Good has a song which begins with the words "I am no longer afraid of death" (it is from her album There Is a Time). In it she sings that this is because, as the end of the chorus states, "I know these caverns that lead to life".

Can we say that boldly in our faith lives? Or do we still fear death? [Whenever I ask that question I am reminded of the Woody Allen quote "I am not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens".] 

Those who have listened to me preach over the years will know that I profess a belief that, in the end, life always wins. If life has not yet appeared to win then we have not yet reached the end.

"Thine is the glory, risen conquering son. Endless is the victory thou o'er death hast won". "The strife is o'er, the battle done; the victory of life is won" "the last enemy to be destroyed is death" "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 

In song and Scripture we proclaim that in the resurrection of Christ death has been defeated. We know the pathway that leads to life. So why would we be afraid of death?

What would it look like if we lived as if life will always win? How might that change our attitudes and actions, our priorities and plans, our hopes and fears?

PS> stay tuned for a Harry Potter reference or two this Sunday....

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Called to be a Courageous Community -- Newsletter Piece

So what makes for a courageous community? As I first think about it I see a couple of ways to take that title.

Is a community courageous because the people who make it up are all courageous and bold? OR...
Does the fact that a community is courageous together make the individuals within it bolder and more courageous? [I think it is probably a bit of both – I tend to answer either/or questions with “both”.]

As I look at the story of Christianity it appears that boldness and courage are hallmarks of our predecessors. To be part of a movement that proclaims an alternative way of being in the world takes courage, wisdom (or folly, or both), and the deep sense that we are not alone in the endeavour. There are many stories of boldness and courage in the history of the church.

Sometimes our communities are courageous because we have members who take a stand and work, often loudly and incessantly, for change. The United Church as a whole and St. Paul’s in particular has a history of these voices. Locally, the people from this congregation who pushed for both the Friendship Centre and Odyssey House showed courage, conviction, and a willingness to use the power they had to make a difference in Grande Prairie. More recently, the people who have led us in the work of exploring what it means to be a place that truly welcomes and affirms all people have shown personal courage and have helped us to be more courageous as a whole.

I think of the “reverse parade” for Canada Day 2020. People came and decorated bulletin boards that we then lied up along the streets. Those boards had messages talking about issues that some would call divisive: Black Lives Matter, Truth and Reconciliation, Gender Identity and Sexuality. There was a time (within my lifetime) when few people from outside the affected communities would dare to raise such issues. On that day most people either ignored our boards as they drove by or gave us a friendly wave. There were a few who were less appreciative. It was a risk to share those messages, it would have been safer to simply have typical Canada Day messaging and decoration. Because of the leadership and creativity of some people we became a more courageous congregation.

Sometimes the reverse happens. Some of us are not born risk-takers, we may prefer to play it safe and not trouble the waters. We worry about what might happen if we step “out of line”. But when we know that we are not alone it becomes easier to take the risk. Sometimes we are individually courageous because our group is courageous. I know that I am more able to take risks, to share less popular ideas because of my experience within groups that have supported and sustained me, I am sure I am not the only one. [Which then feeds the courage of the group as a whole, that then feeds the individuals and a growth loop is created.]

And then there is God (you knew I had to work God in here somewhere right?). God calls and challenges us to be courageous and bold. God calls us to take risks, even risking becoming an outcast, or worse, for the sake of God’s vision of how the world should be. Remember that Jesus told (and tells) his followers that they had (have) to be willing to take up their cross and follow him. In Jesus’ context being willing to take up a cross was being willing to face death.

At the same time God helps us answer that call to be courageous. The evidence I have of that is the fact that the church survived and grew after Jesus’ crucifixion. Even with their experience of Easter it would have been understandable if Jesus’ followers chose the safe path of hiding, remaining underground, only sharing the story with deeply trusted friends. But, filled with the Holy Spirit, exuberant with the Good News, they didn’t do that. God helped them to be bold and take risks as they shared the story of faith. We are not alone. God helps us to be bold and courageous as we share God’s vision for what the world should be.

At this point in time we as a congregation know that we need to make changes. We need to do church in a different way so that our voice will continue to be heard, so that our understanding of God’s Dream will still be shared in Grande Prairie. Change is always a risk. Change often means we give something up in exchange for something else. We need to continue to be courageous as we seek the new way we will be the church.

Please pray with me friends:

God of life, God of resurrection, Source of hope,
help us, as individuals and as a community, to be bold and courageous.
Fill us with excitement for what can be.
Remind us that we are not alone as we take risks.
In a world where there are so many negative voices,
help us hear the voices cheering us on
more than the voices that might disapprove of our choices.
And as the old hymn1 says:
God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your pow’r;
crown your ancient Church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flow’r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.
We pray in the name of the Risen Christ, our guide, teacher, and friend.

1 God of Grace and God of Glory by Henry Emerson Fosdick, #686 in Voices United words taken from

I found this on Facebook as I was preparing this column


Monday, April 24, 2023

Looking Ahead to April 30, 2023 -- 4th Sunday of Easter

Since we are unable to have communion on May 7th due to the Annual Meeting of Northern Spirit Regional Council, we will be having communion this Sunday.

This week we continue our journey through 1 Corinthians 15 with verses 35-49

The Sermon title is What Body?

Early Thoughts: When we talk about resurrection and death and funerary practices, what do we believe about the body? What happens to our body?

In one of the oldest statements of Christian faith in existence, the Apostles' Creed (many United Church folk once learned this creed by memory as part of their confirmation process), we read these words:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The resurrection of the body. What does that mean? Does our physical body become reanimated? What about decomposition? What if the body is damaged? What if one is cremated? Are we stuck with the same body we have now?

At its heart the belief in resurrection of the body suggests "The belief that after death one's departed soul will be restored, or resurrected, to a bodily life in heaven." (source). Certainly this is what Paul is affirming in these verses. I am just not sure it clarifies things all that much.

It appears that the Corinthians are wondering about the body. Some of those questions echo on all these years later.

The part of the Easter story that I have always wrestled with the most is "what happened to Jesus' body?" In Luke and John it appears that the resurrected Jesus is sometimes easily recognizable and sometimes not recognizable at all. What is this body that appears and disappears at random? It is easier for my mind to process the idea of a resurrection that is more of a mystical/visionary/otherworldly event than one that includes a body you can touch and feed. Then to extend this bodily piece to all of us complicates matters a bit more.

At the same time, I think it is very healthy to see body and souls as an integrated whole. So if the soul if resurrected there must be some involvement of the body...

In the end, I think I can follow where Paul leads on this question. At a quick read it seems that he may be trying to muddy the waters with his talk about a physical body and a spiritual body but I don't think so. I return to the fact that in the Easter stories the Risen Christ is sometimes hard to recognize and the fact that Paul's own experience is far more mystical and visionary than the Easter stories in the Gospel. Resurrection is not resuscitation, it has a transforming effect. I also like the image of a seed that Paul uses. I wonder if Paul knows that Jesus is reported to have used a similar image. In John 12:24 Jesus says " Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit." The body does not need to be the same as it was (for some this is a great cause for hope).

So what body do we have after the resurrection? I think it helpful to think there is a bodily form rather than free-floating spirits. Just don't ask me to describe what that body looks like.

Historical side note...
For a long time many Christian groups resisted cremation, favoring the burial of the body (either with or without embalming). This is in part because Christians have historically pointed out that the body is a gift from God, not to be demeaned (think of the "body is a temple" language). As I understand it it is also in part because of questions about the resurrection of the body. Can one be resurrected if the body is destroyed?

Monday, April 17, 2023

Looking Ahead to April 23, 2023 -- 3rd Sunday of Easter

 We continue our exploration of 1 Corinthians 15 this week with verses 12-34

The Sermon title is Following the First Fruits

Early Thoughts: The resurrection is essential for Christian faith. So says Paul, and so say many other Christian thinkers over the years.  Even if, as some do, one believes that the life and teaching of Jesus are the key to what it means to follow The Way of Christ it can not be denied that the story of resurrection is a defining piece of Christian identity.

But do we believe it?

The opening verses of this week's reading highlight that from the beginning (1 Corinthians is one of the earliest pieces of Christian writing that we have) there have been those who question, doubt, or openly deny the truth of resurrection. Paul addresses this doubt head on. For Paul, if the church is misleading itself or lying about the resurrection of the dead, and of Jesus in particular, then all of this is in vain. For Paul, the resurrection of the dead is of vital importance. To put it in language I often use, if life does not win in the end, what is the point?

In the first century CE there were a variety of understandings of what happens when you die. Within Judaism there was a group of people who believed in a general resurrection of the faithful that would happen when the eschaton came, when (to use more common language) the Reign of God would reach full bloom and the world would be changed. In part this was a reaction to the persecutions of earlier era when faithful Jewish folk were martyred because they remained faithful. What would their ultimate fate be? It is unclear what percentage of the general population would have held this belief or hope and I suspect that there were variations in how it was understood. After all, in 1st Century Judaism there was about as much uniformity of thought as there is in 21st Century Christianity (of Judaism or Islam for that matter). Our faith groups are very rarely totally united behind any one precept or understanding.

It is understood that the Pharisee party was a in the group that expected this general resurrection, and Paul self-describes as a member of the Pharisee party. So this helps to underlie Paul's understanding of what has happened in the Christ moment. Paul sees the Resurrection of Jesus as the sign that the general resurrection has begun. Paul, it seems, expects that the eschaton, the "2nd Coming of Jesus" is imminent and that the world is about to be totally transformed (as we read the Gospels it seems that this was a common belief in the early Christian community in general and that maybe even Jesus expected it to happen within a generation or so).

2000 years later we do not have that same sense of imminence. We do not expect that the world will be totally and dramatically transformed within our lifetimes in the same way that Paul did [though there are days where such a total dramatic transformation would seem really nice]. But we still proclaim resurrection. We still proclaim a hope that our last breath in this life is not the end of life. We still proclaim a hope that life will, somehow, win in the end. In some Christian circles this is seen as a "long sleep" until the end comes and the general resurrection happens. In many, possibly even most, Christian circles this hope takes the image of being taken up to heaven at the moment (or shortly thereafter) of death. Still our hope lies in resurrection.

We can preach that life wins because Jesus' resurrection shows us that life can break the bonds of death. We can hope that death and destruction and evil will not have the final say because Jesus' resurrection got the ball rolling. Are we all individually resurrected as we die or will we all sleep until the final trumpet sounds and we all rise together? None of us can say for certain. Personally I tend to believe the former. In any case, we proclaim that Jesus was raised from death and that this gives us hope. As Bill Gaither wrote 50 years ago:

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives All fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living Just because He lives 
Paul tells us that Jesus' resurrection is the first fruit of what God is doing.  Is resurrection real?

Monday, April 10, 2023

Looking Ahead to April 16, 2023 -- 2nd Sunday of Easter

 For some years now I have been pondering taking the season of Easter to work through 1 Corinthians 15 (Paul's full chapter exploring resurrection). So this year I am taking 4 Sundays to do just that.

This week we are reading the first few verses: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

The Sermon title is One of Many Witnesses

Early Thoughts: Does a long list of witnesses make a difference? What allows one to become one of those witnesses?

As he approaches the end of this letter Paul gets to the basics of the faith. He reminds the Corinthians of the basis of the faith he has passed on to them -- Jesus crucified and risen. As he begins this discussion he starts to list the many people to whom the Risen Christ appeared. Is this to prove that it happened? Is it an attempt to show that there are others?

Then, after all the others Paul includes himself as a witness. Which makes sense since Paul is passing on what has been passed on to him. It also sets the precedent that a witness to the resurrection does not have to have been part of the first Easter Day. Witnessing the resurrection can happen long afterward, even to very unlikely people [Paul himself names that he was an unlikely choice].

2000 years later who is on our list of witnesses?

Who in our lives have been able to tell us of their experience of the Risen Christ? What do those stories sound like?

Witnesses are important. They do help us know that we are not alone. As they share their experiences they open our eyes to what is possible. Without witnesses who are willing to share their story so much would fail to happen. In the life of faith communities, in the justice system, in the world at large witnesses are key to how we pass on experiences and wisdom.

In the end, I am not sure that only the testimony of other witnesses brings the transformation of resurrection into our lives. I think that it is our own experience that truly transforms our lives. But we need those witnesses. They help open us to the promise and possibility of transformation. They help us process what we experience.

Then we are called/challenged/invited to be witnesses in our own turn. The story never stands or falls on our witness, we are one of many who have gone before. Still we need to be ready to share our story of faith.

What is our story? What did we witness?

Monday, April 3, 2023

Looking Ahead to April 9, 2023 -- Easter Sunday

For our Easter celebration this year we will hear the Resurrection Story as told by Matthew as well as some verses from Paul's letter to the Colossians. The passages are:

  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • Matthew 28:1-10

The Sermon title is What Are You Looking For?

Early Thoughts: What did they expect to find? Certainly not what they found, that much is clear.

What do we expect to find when we gather to hear the Easter story? Do we find it? Are we open to finding something different?

Each year, as I start to prepare for the Easter sermon, I make a conscious effort to put myself in a similar mindset to those first disciples. There is a danger in knowing the story too well, we can forget what gives it real power. Despite the fact that Jesus had, on more than one occasion, predicted his death and resurrection I see no evidence in the Gospel accounts that the disciples actually expected an empty tomb. Matthew tells us that Mary and Mary went to the tomb but does not tell us why. Were they, as other accounts tell us, taking spices to anoint the body? Were they wondering about the big rock and the guards that were protecting the tomb? Or were they simply doing what grieving people have done for millennia -- going to weep and say good bye?

In my minds eye the 2 Marys are walking with broken hearts and souls. This man they had followed, who had filled them with hope, who had loved them was dead. They knew it, they had watched him die. They knew where his body was because they were the only ones who had watched him laid in the tomb. All the others had fled, afraid perhaps that they might be the next ones on the cross, but Mary and Mary were there the whole time. Did their grief and commitment outweigh their own fear? I really think they expected to find things much as they had last seen them when the body was laid in the tomb.

Of course they found something totally different. The ground shakes and their world is changed. Interestingly, Matthew also tells of the earth shaking at the moment Jesus dies. Something momentous is happening in these moments.

There are two possible reactions to the great Good News shared by the angel. One is unbridled terror. One is great joy. (and the two are not mutually exclusive). Where the two women had come to weep and expected to find death they found LIFE. The Jesus story once again turns the world as we know it on its head. And the women go off to start to spread the news.

When has the earth been shaken and our world been changed, for good or for bad? [Remember Matthew has an earthquake both at the moment of death and the moment of resurrection.] Do we come to Easter morning looking for what we have always found, to hear a familiar story again? Do we come open to being surprised by the possibilities of resurrection? As people of faith we have all experienced many losses in life. As communities of faith many of us have a story of how things were once so much better and livelier, whereas now we mourn what has been lost. Sometimes we are afraid of what the future may bring after all the losses. Are we ready for resurrection, for life that conquers death?

One of the things I think we forget about the Easter story (possibly because we think we know it so well, possibly because it makes it simpler some how) is that resurrection is not resuscitation. Jesus resurrected is not the same as Jesus pre-cross. The world is changed, Jesus is changed, the relationship between Jesus and the disciples is changed. And in experiencing Easter the disciples are changed. Certainly the story of Christian faith is a story of life that wins but it is not a story of going back to how things were before. Resurrection, new life, means irrevocable change.

This Easter I encourage us to open ourselves to what changes resurrection might bring to our lives, both as individuals and as communities. AS we continue to recover from the years of pandemic (and sort out what living with COVID active in the world as an ongoing presence might mean) what does resurrection look like after those pandemic losses (remembering that we can't go back to how it was in 2019 again)? As many faith communities wrestle with changing congregational attendance and cash flow, what might a resurrected church look like (not the 1950's, 60's 70's or 80's)? What have we lost forever to make room for the resurrection life to bloom in its place?

What do you look for at Easter? Do you find it? What else might you find if you keep your eyes, ears, and soul open for God's surprises?

Looking Ahead to April 7, 2023 -- Good Friday

The Scripture Readings for Good Friday this year are:

  • Isaiah 52:13-53:12
  • Matthew 26:47-27:56
  • Matthew 27:57-61

The Reflection title is Consequences

Early Thoughts: Choices have consequences. How many times have you heard or said those words?

Rarely, though we may like to, can we escape the consequences of our actions. However, we do have the ability to decide if the likely consequences are worth doing it anyway.

Jesus knew the likely consequences of the path he was walking. He had told his closest friends that this path would end with his death -- more than once he had told them this. And yet he kept going. He spent the last week of his love in the Temple, the central point of Jewish life at the time, teaching and confronting the "way things are" with the promise of "what will be".

The people in charge did not like this. While the Gospel accounts tell us clearly that the Jewish leadership were the ones most upset about the challenge that Jesus presented to their authority I have little doubt that the Roman officials were equally disturbed by this threat to the peace. So they acted. They had Jesus arrested, tried, beaten, mocked, and executed.

Was it worth it? 

The story we tell on Good Friday is often called the story of the Passion (think of Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ). This is drawn from the Latin word that means to suffer/suffering so the story of Christ's Passion is the story of Christ's suffering. And really that makes sense. The story we tell on Good Friday is a fairly horrific tale. But given that the English word passion has developed other meanings I wonder what else we might do with it...

In modern usage passion is a word used to describe something that is very important to us, or maybe something that gives us great pleasure, or maybe something that makes life more worthwhile. How do these meanings (well really the first and the third I suppose) tie in to our Good Friday narrative?

The proclamation of a changed world, of a world where God's priorities take precedence over human priorities is what Jesus was all about. I think it is fair to say that Jesus' passion was the Reign of God. I also think it is fair and accurate to say that his passion for this changed world, for a world where the established order is turned upside down, annoys those who benefit the most from the world as it was and leads directly to his arrest, trial, and execution. The cross was a direct consequence of him living out his calling and passion.

It is traditional to name that Jesus' death was a sacrificial act. Jesus died because of the sinfulness of the world (more traditionally stated as "died for our sins"). Some will say this in a "paying the price on our behalf" way. I tend to use that language differently. I see the sacrificial act as a statement of his passion, of his commitment to God's vision for the world. The cause is so important that he is willing to risk, or even embrace, death to get the message shared.

What is so important to us that we are willing to suffer harsh consequences? What makes us passionate enough to risk serious payment? Can we get that committed to a vision for the world? What are we willing to sacrifice?

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Looking Ahead to April 6, 2023 -- Maundy Thursday

 For Maundy Thursday this year we will be having a short, less formal, worship in the Friendship Room at 7:00. Communion will be served.

The Scripture we will hear this evening will be:

  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • Luke 22:14-23

Early Thoughts: For 2000 years we have gathered at the table of faith. For 2000 years we have broken bread and poured out the beverage (sometimes wine, sometimes juice) and eaten together.

The central weekend of the Christian Year begins with this meal, this remembering of another meal shared in an upper room. Before the arrest, before the trial, before the horror we pause to remember the God who sets God's people free. We pause to eat together and be refreshed.

As we gather on this evening there are a few things I want us to remember.

  1. this is the meal that unites us across the miles and throughout the centuries with other people who have chosen this path of faith.
  2. this bread and this drink may be a mere mouthful on this night but they remind us of the banquet that awaits us at the end of days, a time when folk will gather from many different places and traditions to eat together.
  3. the meal that lies beneath this meal is a reminder that God sets God's people free, and so is also a reminder that we need to avoid placing each other in bondage

May our gathering to eat and drink and remember on this evening strengthen us as we face the emotional roller coaster that the weekend will bring.