April 26 – Anniversary Sunday

The following link will provide you with additional information and resources for the whole family for this Sunday, Easter 2: 
https://sjruc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Easter-Week3.pdf

Readings from the Scriptures: Luke 24:45-49 (The Message)

He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”

My Wish for You, May You Have it All!                      Rev. Rob Selby

Without question we are living in unprecedented times.  With COVID19, social distancing the new normal, and then as if that wasn’t enough the horrendous tragedy in Nova Scotia a week ago, and we’re all still reeling from that.  I think like a lot of people are asking ourselves, why…why now?

I met a lady, a member of our congregation, at the church where I now attend here in Middleville, as I was walking over to our church building for a third time to record the opening of this service (more on that in a minute).  And she said to me, perhaps we should just call 2020 a write-off, and move right into 2021.  Oh that we could! But we can’t do that, can we?  In a moment, I want to reflect for a few minutes about some of that, but also, our appropriate response as Christians to that.  But first a short update on my life since I was last at St. James’~Rosemount United Church.  I was to start by saying thank you – it’s great to be here – even if I’m not there – I’m here…but it’s great to be with you in spirit.  And most importantly, to remember the wonderful times of ministry I had amongst you, through the miracle of modern technology.  I want to thank Peggy Schott, and the Worship Committee for inviting me to be here today with you and to worship with you on this Anniversary Sunday.  When Peggy contacted me, I jumped at the opportunity.  I also want to thank Pastor Chris for his openness and his most significantly for his ministry with you. 

You’re probably all familiar with that terminology ‘walk a mile in my shoes.’  I had no idea…absolutely no idea how much work and effort goes into preparing an online worship service like this.  And especially preparing a worship experience like Pastor Chris and so many others across our country, in our United Church, in North America and throughout the world are putting in to create experiences like this.  And so I thank them.  And if you haven’t had the opportunity to send him an email, or make a phone call and just say thank you, thank you for the effort, please do.  Again, ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ I had no idea, until I had to put this service, and our Easter service at our congregation, together a few weeks ago. 

The commitment that so many ministers, with you and across our country are putting in, is incredible.  Having said that, I’m glad to be retired!  And so a word about that.  For the past six and a half years, I was the lead minister at Knox United Church in Agincourt, and then I retired a year ago, and moved to my home here in Middleville, Ontario.  Many of you will remember Judy – Judy moved and owns a home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and she moved there several years ago.  My eldest daughter Heather, finally got her PhD, and she is doing a Post Doc at Stanford University in California, and immediately upon arriving there started working from home.  She is working specifically in the area of finding a way of diagnosing COVID19 quicker.  My other daughter Adrienne has three children, two boys and a girl, and they live in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  I love them all very dearly – and although I don’t get to see enough of them – it is a joy to be able to Facetime and Skype and connect that way in these times.  Before we look at the passage for today, and I reflect upon it, let’s take a moment and pray…

Loving God, may the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts together, be acceptable unto you, O Most High, in Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen

A couple years ago, just before New Year’s, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear an interview by Ali Hassan on CBC radio, of a young singer songwriter, Jason Mraz.  And you saw his video ‘May You Have it All’ just a few minutes ago, played as our anthem today.  I love that song!  And as I said earlier, I think it’s one of those songs I think we should listen to almost every day.  And then Ali Hassan said to Jason Mraz in that interview, “it’s one of those songs that could be played time and again at graduations and weddings.  It’s really a toast, a wedding toast, a retirement toast, an anniversary toast.”  And so I have my empty wine glass here – I think in Canada, on videos, you’re not allowed to have anything in your glass, or at least you’re not allowed to consume it, so I’m trying to practice that.  This used to be my mother’s wine glass – why my parents who were good Baptists had so many wine glasses I have no idea – but at least they were in pristine shape when I inherited them.  And so I’m going to use it in a moment, as my toasting wine glass.

But before we reflect on the song from Jason Mraz, you’re all familiar with the very familiar scripture story for today.  When Jesus meets two of his faithful friends, his faithful disciples, walking on the road to Emmaus.  And at first they don’t recognize him…but then they do.   And that same day, he goes to one of their homes, and he breaks bread with them, and then he talks very interestingly, about his heavenly Father…sending power to them.  We now understand that happened on Pentecost, when the Spirit of power comes upon the church.  I think if Jesus were here with us today, he would well quote the words of Jason Mraz – ‘May you have it all…’  And so here are some of my own, ‘May you have it all’ statements in no particular order, for this your Anniversary Sunday:

May you grow in your understanding of who God is…
May you glimpse the divine in your neighbour, your friend, and your fellow church member…
May you seek justice, and love mercy…
May you know the reality, and the hope, of our eternal continuation day…
So here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you…

Here’s to the fact that I’m always thinking of you…
May you welcome each new day with a sense of hope…
And have a little kindness…
And may you know that we are all a forgiven people…
May you recognize the deep significance of what one great theologian once said was the greatest theological statement ever made:  ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’

So here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you…
Here’s to the fact that I’m always thinking of you…
May you know that I’m always praying for you…
May you know that someday we will meet face to face, in-person, once again,
and that will be as one of my good friends likes to say ‘A really really good day…’

So here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you…
Here’s to the fact that I’m always thinking of you…

May you also know that I’m a better person and a blessed person,
for having been in ministry there at St. James’~Rosemount United Church.
May you know that I’m always thinking of you.

A good friend of mine said to me recently that at the Jewish Seder, they always say, ‘next year, in Jerusalem,’ and then he said, maybe that’s what we’re thinking these days.  When we say ‘this too shall end, there will be a time that we’ll get together.’ 

Next year in Jerusalem – L’chaim – best wishes – God bless you all.  Amen and amen.

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