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May God shower you with love and peace this Easter as we look forward to being together again.

Our Annual General Meeting will be held at 6:30pm (mst) February 15, 2021. This will be held via Zoom. Login and other technical  information will be provided closer to the meeting date. Thank you.

Our Annual General Meeting will be held at 6:30pm (mst) February 15, 2021. This will be held via Zoom. Login and other technical  information will be provided closer to the meeting date. Thank you.

On November 11 we stop and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. No matter the race, gender, ethnicity or religion, we thank them for their service and ultimate sacrifice.

With great sadness, we announce the passing of GORDON INGALLS, in Vancouver.
No further details are available at this time.
You are asked to pray for Katherine and family in this difficult time and for the peaceful repose of Gordon’s soul.

 Distilling A Lifetime of Faith 

This is one of the hardest sermons I have ever had to write. This is a time of both joy and sorrow. 

I have written 1434 different sermons during my 38 years of ministry. I have preached almost 1600 sermons … which means I repeated a few, but most of the sermons I offered were new, written for different times and different celebrations and different contexts. 

This is my last “regular” sermon. I may preach again occasionally as a guest, but I suspect those times will be few. 

Before COVID–19 hit, I was beginning to think about what I would say in my last sermon. I had started to make some plans … and then everything changed. We haven’t been able to worship together since March 8. I have kept writing sermons to help nourish us in this time, but it hasn’t been quite the same. 

My greatest sorrow is that we should have been able to walk through this time together. We should have been able to celebrate this ending of our time together. But we can’t, so we make the best of this situation and time. It breaks my heart not to be able to share this moment with you, and we will have to wait until we can say our goodbyes properly. 

In my preaching and ministry among you and with you, I have tried to tell the truth and to tell it in love. (I’ll say a little more about that at the end of this sermon). I have also tried diligently to live out my words. More often than I would like to think, I have failed to do so because I am a fallible human being. But I got up and tried again. 

The heart of what I believe, what I have tried to proclaim, what I have tried to live is found in these ten thoughts: 

1. God lives. I believe profoundly in the presence of the living God whose deepest desire is to fill us with abundant life. 

2. God loves us and all creatures deeply and passionately. As I learned from an early mentor, “Nothing we can do will make God love us any more. Nothing we can do will make God love us any less.” We are God’s beloved people, and the earth teems with the creatures with whom God has fallen in love. 

3. God cares. God is not some remote being who set the world running and then promptly forgot about it. God is not some distant force. but is as near as our next breath. God is involved in our lives, and longs fiercely for us to be involved with equal passion in the life of God. 

4. God calls. God entrusts us with the message of love and invites us to live it out in the world. God calls us to a vocation of compassion and passion for the gospel, that we be a people for whom love is the highest value. That vocation is encapsulated in the Great Commandment: love God with all that you are and love your neighbour as yourself. Be people of love, and reach out to all others in as many creative ways as we can in everything we do. 

5. God empowers us. We do not live out our vocation by our own strength. God is at work in us and with us and among us and around us. God strengthens us to be people of love, grace, compassion, joy, and hope. 

6. God needs us. St. Teresa of Avila (15th century Spanish mystic) wrote, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, 

yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” God simply cannot fill this world with love and compassion without us. 

7. God leads. Which means that we follow. God always takes the initiative, and we respond. If you’re a grammar nerd like me, the gospel always begins with the indicative, and only then does it move to the imperative. The gospel begins, “I am God, I am with you, you are Mine, I love you.” Then God says, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news of life.” The Ten Commandments is a wonderful example of this. Exodus 20 begins, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” This is what I have done; how, here is how my people can live together in peace and grace. 

8. For Christians, Christ is the very image of God. We claim that we see the purposes of God most clearly in Christ. This doesn’t mean that Christ is the only image of God. Other religions speak of God in different ways, and we can, and must, treat those other religions with respect and love. While it is not true for all, for us who follow Jesus, we claim that he is the one who shows us God most clearly. 

9. We are, in Christ, the very image of God. As we follow and respond to God, as we seek to walk in the Way of Jesus, we bear within us the image of God. Like Mary, we are Theotokos, “God–bearers”. Each day we give birth to God. 

10. The Bible is not a manual for life. Rather, the Bible tells the stories of God’s people who throughout history have tried to live in relationship with God. The Bible is not a rule book or a set of commandments or God’s little instruction book. The Bible’s stories can inspire the stories of our lives, so that as we learn from our ancestors in faith, we can seek to live in the same faith as we add our little bits to the grand story as we live in very different contexts in the 21st century. 

These ten thoughts are the basis of my faith, my trust, my relationship with God. Of course, there is much more to be said about each of these, but people have told me that brevity is the soul of wit. It’s a good way to end … 

… but I can’t end without at least a comment about one of the readings for today. It’s my Presbyterian heritage coming through, I suppose. 

The alternative Old Testament reading today comes from the prophet Jeremiah. It’s the story of two prophets in conflict at a time just after the people of Israel had been taken into Exile. The Babylonian armies had overrun Jerusalem, destroyed and looted the Temple, and took all the leaders and many of the people to Babylon. It was a crisis of unimaginable proportions. 

Along comes a prophet named Hananiah. Please remember that a prophet is not someone who predicts the future. A prophet is similar to what we mean when we say “preacher”. (Now you can see why this reading seems appropriate to me on this last Sunday as a preacher, and why I couldn’t resist commenting on it.) 

He claims to speak in the name of God. “When you get to Babylon, don’t bother to unpack. I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon; you will be back home within two years. All the treasures of the temple will come back with you, and your leaders as well. God has promised a quick and easy deliverance.” 

You can see why the people would love a preacher like this. This difficult time won’t last. It will come to an end soon. Hang in there, God is with you, God is on your side, all you need to do is believe, and you will find prosperity and deliverance. 

It almost sounds as if Hananiah could have written Robert Schuller’s book Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do. Well I’m sorry, Robert. “If it doesn’t kill you it will make you 

stronger” may be a nice slogan, but sometimes tough times do last. And sometimes vulnerable people are hurt and killed. They don’t become stronger. 

On the other side stands Jeremiah. In chapter 27, he fashioned a yoke which he put on his shoulders as a visible prophetic act that the people were under the yoke of Babylon. In response to Hananiah, Jeremiah says, “Amen, brother! How I wish you were right! But you’re not. You’re wrong. Dead wrong. This is going to last for a long time.” Jeremiah dares to tell his people the truth, hard and holy truths. 

Then in chapter 29, Jeremiah writes a letter to the exiles in Babylon. “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat the produce. Marry. Give your children in marriage. Multiply in Babylon, and do not decrease. Above all, seek the welfare of the city where I sent you, for in its welfare you will find your own welfare.” 

This is going to last for a while. Even in exile, be God’s faithful and loving people; pray for the enemies who took you into exile. 

Jeremiah told a hard and holy truth. 

That’s how I have tried to live in my vocation as priest. I don’t claim to have always done it right. I don’t claim to have always succeeded. I don’t claim to be the only one who can hear God’s voice. 

But I have tried to tell the truth as I have discerned it—hard truths like: 

As we do that, we are responding to God’s passionate love for us. We are walking in this world as God’s beloved children. We are precious, chosen, called, and empowered. 

We can live as the church. 

We can live as God’s people. 

Finally, a small gift. I have known a story “The Parable of the Lighthouse” for many years. A 4–minute video tells the parable beautifully. You can find it at: 


Thank you for your love and grace in this time of ministry we have shared for 16 years. I am deeply, deeply grateful. 

Thanks be to God. 

Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt 

June 28, 2020 (4th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 13) 

Jeremiah 28: 1–11 

Matthew 10: 40–42 

Romans 6: 12–23 

 In the Beginning, God … 

(the opening of this sermon was inspired by a sermon I heard some time ago, 

but I’ve forgotten the preacher and the details) 

In the beginning, God began to create the world. In the beginning, God began to draw order out of chaos. In the beginning, God breathed life into every living creature. In the beginning, God began to craft and make a world which would reflect God’s love and God’s passion. 

And then, God looked at it all and said, “Oh, this is good. This is very good. Mmm mmm mmm, it is good.” 

In the beginning … 

And then God rested. 

And then God gave it into our care. 

And some days we look out at our world and wonder if it’s really true. Sometimes it seems as if we want to lead the world back into chaos. Sometimes it seems as if we are trying to recreate the world in our distorted image so that it only serves a select few, the ones with money and power. Sometimes it seems as if we are so driven that we don’t want to rest so that we can grow the economy, grow our wealth, grow our production, grow our portfolios, all at the cost of the poorest among us, all at the cost of creation itself. Sometimes it seems as if we are driven to dismantle the world and let chaos have its way again. 

Sometimes it seems as if we are determined to create a world of death and loss instead of one which ravishes us with beauty and the miracle of life and breath and goodness and the flourishing of all living things: 

Let me say it again … “In the beginning, God …” 

The very first words of our sacred text—a text which is sacred because it tells the stories of how God is among us—remind us that when we are talking about matters of theology and faith, we’re not talking about ourselves. First and foremost, we are talking about God. Only secondarily are we talking about our faith, our trust, our life of discipleship. We respond to God, and response, by definition, always comes second. 

In the beginning, God … 

The wonder of Christian faith is that God hungers to be in community with us. The very heart of God is relational. We see that in this delightful creation story, when at the very end God says, “Let us make humankind in our image …” The rest of creation wasn’t enough. God finishes creation by making creatures who are in the image of God, with whom God can be in relationship. 

The human being is the crown of creation, says Psalm 8, for we are made to reflect the very nature of God. If God hungers for relationship, then that longing for relationship is built into our DNA as well. 

We are catching a sense of that during this time of self–isolation. We are learning in a whole new way how difficult it is to maintain physical distance from one another. We miss the interaction. We miss the hugs. We miss just being together. We are discovering once again that even though we must be physically distant, it is so important to maintain some kind of social connection. 

And so we reach out to one another … by phone and by email and by lawn parties where we keep our physical distance but we can be together, by helping one another with ordinary daily tasks, but making sure that we’re all keeping well and keeping safe. 

We long to be with each other … and our longing is a reflection of God’s passion to be with us. 

At the very beginning of Matthew’s gospel, the angel tells Joseph in a dream that the child to be born will be named Emmanuel, which means God with us. The heart of God to be in communion with us is captured in this child’s name. We live in a world which is saturated with divine presence. This is the God “in whom we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) 

God with us. Emmanuel. 

Matthew’ gospel ends with the same promise. In the very last thing he does on earth after resurrection in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus encounters the disciples one last time. He gives them a ministry—we call it the Great Commission—“go and make disciples of all nations; baptize them; teach them.” 

Just as God gave creation into our care, now Jesus gives the gospel of love and God’s ministry to the church. “Tell the world about God’s love,” Says Jesus. “Live as people who embody God’s love; be disciples; mentor other disciples.” As I’ve said before, God doesn’t call us to be church members. God calls us to be disciples. To be people who follow Jesus. To be people who walk in the way of Jesus. To live as Jesus lived. To love as Jesus loved. 

This is the work of healing and transformation. Jesus invites us to join in the work of transforming our failed ways so that we and all of creation may be healed. Jesus invites us to partner with God in the word of transformation and reconciliation. 

And then at the very end of the gospel, Jesus’ very last words are, “Remember … I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

That’s the promise that sustains and energizes us. I am with you. 


Holy Spirit is that intimate, life–giving presence of God in our midst. God continues to breathe life into the church and into the world so that we may all be able to breathe. God invites us to breathe hope and goodness and beauty and joy and love into the world. We can breathe, so that all may be enabled to breathe with God’s grace and compassion. 

God is with us in every experience. God is with us in every action and word. God is with us as we reach out in love. God is with us as we proclaim with all our strength that every single person is wondrous and valued and loved. 

This good news strengthens God’s people of all faiths to stand together and proclaim that every single life matters. We stand against the blasphemy of Donald Trump, proclaiming boldly that there are no scum, there are no losers, there are no people who are beneath our notice. All are valuable. All are dear in the heart of God. All are loved beyond measure. 

And God hungers to be in relationship with all of us and each of us. 

We see it throughout the whole Bible. This story in our sacred text is not just a story of God’s people learning about God. It’s a story of God’s people encountering God in our lives. God comes close to us. God refuses to remain far off. God longs to be with us and God invites us to rest in the embrace of love our whole lives long. 

God embraces all of us. Not just a few of us. Not just some of us. God invites “all nations” to come together in peace, to breathe together the goodness of life. Every single person. Every single community. We are made in the image of God, and therefore we have so much more in common than what divides us. Any person, any leader, who seeks to divide us is working against the purposes of God. 

God is with us. Christ calls to each of us from the face and experience of the other. When we say “God is with us”, we are saying that we see God in the lives of the other, that God calls to us from the one who is different than us, that God reaches out to us with the hands of those who are not like us. 

In the beginning, God … 

I think this—all this—is what “Trinity” is trying to describe … this dynamic, creative, relational God who always seeks to be with us and among us and within us. God is always creating, and God is always relating with creation, and God is always transforming creation. Read that last sentence again. 

God is always creating, and God is always relating with creation, and God is always transforming creation. God is always at work bringing order out of chaos, always breathing life into every moment, always raising up a people who seek to work in partnership with God. 

In the beginning, God … 

And in response, we … 

As God’s people, we stand in solidarity with one another. We reach across all geographic and political and racial and religious divides. We join hands with one another, standing firm and rooted in the gospel of love against anyone and any force which seeks to divide us. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 

Thanks be to God. 

Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt 

June 7, 2020 (Pentecost 1, Trinity Sunday) 

Genesis 1:1–2:4a 

Matthew 28: 16–20 

Psalm 8 

2 Corinthians 13:11–13 

 The Miracle of Pentecost 

We’ve talked a lot about the Holy Spirit in the last couple of weeks. Last week, we heard Jesus promise that God’s holy Spirit would come. Today, we celebrate the gift of God’s holy Spirit in the church. The promise of Jesus is fulfilled. That’s what Pentecost Sunday is for. We wear red on this day, which is the colour of holy Spirit. 

Which raises the question, “Who or what is the Holy Spirit?” 

To quote one of the wise preachers of the last generation, Fred Craddock, “I cannot describe the Holy Spirit. I cannot explain the Spirit of God. Jesus said it is like a mystery, like the wind. You don’t see the wind, and yet you know when it comes and when it goes.” That kind of modesty is appropriate when trying to talk about God or Jesus or holy Spirit. We are dealing with mystery which is greater than we can fully understand. 

But even if we can’t explain holy Spirit, we can describe her and discern her effects in the lives of people. 

The Bible describes God’s holy Spirit in different ways. Acts 2 pictures a dramatic scene which describes holy Spirit as “a sound like the rush of a violent wind … and something like tongues of fire.” The gospel reading from John 20 doesn’t describe holy Spirit but compares it with breath—the disciples receive holy Spirit as Jesus breathes on the them. 

This points to an important connection. In both Hebrew and Greek, the word for “spirit” is the same as the word for “wind” or “breath”. Both Acts and John use the language of wind and breath in trying to describe holy Spirit. 

Indeed, Genesis begins with holy Spirit. “In the beginning … a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” The King James version makes the connection obvious by translating it, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”. God’s Spirit. A wind from God, hovering over the chaos in the beginning. 

And what does holy Spirit do? In every instance, God’s holy Spirit brings life. She empowers God’s people. Like breath, she infuses us with life. Like wind, she blows us into action. Like fire, she sets us alight with God’s purposes. God’s holy Spirit gives God’s people life and energy, movement and passion. 

In Acts, holy Spirit blows into that upper room where those early followers of Jesus were gathered together (and wouldn’t we all love to be doing that these days?) and sends them into the street to tell the good news of all that God has done. They speak in the languages of all the people who are in Jerusalem for the festival so that all can understand. This powerfully inclusive Spirit seeks to welcome all the world into the good news of God’s love. Holy Spirit fills us with life to proclaim good news. 

In the second reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul points to the work of holy Spirit in empowering and unifying the church in God’s mission in the world. Through God’s Spirit, we are able to say, “Jesus is Lord”. That same spirit gives varieties of gifts and leads to varieties of service, but always pointing to the one God who is the source of our life. 

The critical element is that God’s Spirit is given “for the common good”. I cannot overstate the importance of that phrase. Paul wrote this to a church in Corinth which was badly divided. Paul reminds them over and over again that the church is not a collection of isolated individuals but is primarily a body which is united in Christ through God’s holy Spirit. 

But let’s broaden Paul’s understanding of the Spirit’s movement. We’ve learned some things since Paul’s time. We’ve done some things wrong and we’ve done some things right. 20 

centuries later, we live in a different time, with a different understanding, and a different view of what we need to do to make the world a place of greater inclusion and greater love. 

For me, God’s holy Spirit infuses not just the church with life. God’s spirit infuses the whole world with life. God’s holy Spirit inspires all people of good will. God is wildly inclusive and draws the world into a common work of seeking peace and justice and wholeness. 

Our world grows more and more tribal each day. Nations, cities, and even faith communities are turning against each other out of suspicion and selfishness. This pandemic is showing some of the racism in our world more clearly, and we need to oppose it wherever we see it. We are seeing this tribalism at work as cities erupt in pain and anger at another killing of an unarmed black man by the police. 

So let me ask some questions as we seek to broaden our understanding. 

Even as we need to physically separate from people around us, might it be that God is pouring out holy Spirit on us all so that we might learn new and life–giving ways of being love incarnate in this frightened and imperiled world? 

Might it be that God is pouring holy Spirit on us so that we might reach across racial and religious divides to welcome one another as people seeking to live with justice and hope and peace in this world? 

Might it be that we are being called to speak the different languages in this world? Not just physical languages like English and Dutch and Swahili, but all the different ways in which groups speak about themselves? Might it be that we are being called to turn away from the tribalism which says that our way is right, and another is wrong? That we are being called to reach out to those who practice other ways and speak other languages and come out of other cultures? That we are being called to reach across racial divides and political divides and cultural divides and religious divides? 

Is this where God’s holy Spirit might be leading us in these days of pandemic? In which we do not look just at the outer aspect of others, but in which we look deeper and see the God inside each of us? 

Paul lists some of the gifts which God’s spirit gives for the common good—gifts of speaking wisdom and preaching, gifts of faith and healing. In Galatians 5, Paul adds to the list and reminds us all that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” 

Just as God began to create through holy Spirit “in the beginning”, God is also at work recreating life in the 21st century through holy Spirit. These gifts of God’s Spirit are urgently needed in a world which has grown ever more hostile and afraid. These gifts of the Spirit are nothing less than God acting in our world. 

Whenever we love … God shines through us, and the miracle of Pentecost is being recreated. 

Whenever we show joy, God shines through us, and the miracle of Pentecost is being recreated. 

Whenever we live in peace, God shines through us, and the miracle of Pentecost is being recreated. 

Whenever we are patient or kind or gentle, God shines through us, and the miracle of Pentecost is being recreated. 

We see God’s holy Spirit at work in us and in the world as we live in gentle, faithful, life–giving, and loving ways. God’s holy Spirit is at work in us—leading, urging, luring us with bountiful gifts and powerful challenges to be more than we can be when we are left to our own limited devices. 

One final word. We talk so often about the mission of the church. 

But it’s not the church which has a mission. The One who has a mission is God—and God invites the church to be part of that mission. God invites us to live God’s mission. God invites us to love and protect our neighbours in the same way as we would love and protect our families and ourselves. Our calling has never been more urgently needed than it is in this time of distancing and fear and fragmentation. 

We are the mission of God, and whenever we live through the faithfulness of God at work in us, God shines through us, and the miracle of Pentecost is recreated. 

It may not be the kind of dramatic scene pictured in Acts where we spill out into the streets. We can’t do that these days. But we can certainly, as those early disciples did when Jesus breathed on them, “receive the Holy Spirit” and live as the people of God’s own heart. 

Thanks be to God. 

Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt 

May 31, 2020 (Pentecost Sunday) 

1 Corinthians 12: 3b–13 

Acts 2: 1–21 

John 20: 19–23