Category: Minister

Minister’s blog

Surprised by Iris

Posted by on Monday, May 21st, 2012 in Minister


The house that we purchased when we moved to Hespeler came with a beautiful back yard planted with a lovely perennial garden and adorned with a fish pond bursting with an enormous population of fish. It has very quickly become our favourite place to hang out.

Not being expert gardeners (but willing to learn) it is like an adventure each time we head outdoors. We don't know what those who have worked here before us have planted and we just get to sit back and watch it all explode in life around us. What a privilege.

Today -- on Victoria Day afternoon -- it was a wonderful surprise to look up and see that four beautiful iris flowers had just appeared. What a pleasure to be blown away by unexpected beauty!
Continue reading »

Living in Christ, Sharing his Love.

Posted by on Thursday, May 17th, 2012 in Minister


St. Andrew’s Hespeler: Living in Christ, Sharing his Love.

St. Andrew’s Hespeler Presbyterian Church has what I think of as a motto or a slogan. It is emblazoned on a plaque at the main entrance of the church and often printed on such things as letterhead. It is, I know, a slogan that means a lot to some of the people at the church – a slogan that has encouraged us to stretch towards worthwhile goals like getting more involved in our community – reaching out to people and helping to meet needs.
 
So I hardly want to mess with a good thing. This slogan really has helped make us who we are.

But I do sometimes wonder if it is enough given the challenges being faced by the church in these days. 

It is possible to read that slogan in a completely non-challenging way. It is kind of like being in favour of mom and apple pie. Of course these are good thing and we are in favour of them but are they really pushing us to be more and do more in the name Jesus?

The other night, as we were engaged in our Long Range Planning exercise, I was struck by a thought though. That motto can only seem safe and non-threatening when we leave it abstract – when we don’t think about what it means practically to live in Christ in this world, when don’t consider how we share his love are with whom.

So I’ve started to think that we need to dig deeper into that slogan and map out what it means. What if we were to expand it like this?

                Living in Christ   …alongside people who think differently from us.
                                                … in the workplace, at school, in the mall.
                                                … when we don’t have all the answers.
                                                … when we’re sick or lost or grieving.
                                                … when we’re surrounded by people who practice other religions?

                Sharing his love … with those facing mental challenges.
                                                … with those who scare us (for whatever reason).
                                                … with people who have different taste in music or in worship styles.
                                                … with those who are bringing change into our lives.

I’m just starting to think about this and these expansions are just off the top of my head. I’d love to know what people think about it – am I on the right track?
Continue reading »

“Would you like to join the altar guild?”

Posted by on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 in Minister


In her most recent book, Christianity after Religion, Diana Butler Bass tells about a conversation with a woman in her Episcopal (we’d call it Anglican) Congregation:

"Would you like to join the altar guild?" asked an older woman, a member of a church where I was a member. After all, you like to arrange flowers.

She was a nice person, diligent in her service to the church. Most every week, she showed up early on Sunday morning to set up the altar. She ironed the altar cloths, shined the silver chalices, and laid everything out. Sounded like holy housework to me.

Instead of saving yes or no, I responded, “Why?”

“Because I’ve been doing it for thirty-five years,” she said impatiently, and I’m really tired. It is time for someone else to do it instead.”

Not exactly an appealing invitation. I turned the offer down. I suspect that the woman had a rich faith life. I always wondered what might have happened if she had answered the question this way:

You know, I’ve been serving on the altar guild for thirty-five years. Every Sunday, I awake before dawn and come down here to the church. It is so quiet. I come into the building and unlock the sacristy. I open the drawers and take out the altar cloths and laces, so beautifully embroidered with all the colors of the seasons. I unfold them, iron them, and drape them on the altar. Then I go to the closet and take out the silver, making sure it is cleaned and polished. I pour water and wine. While I set the table for the Lord’s Supper, I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to set the table for Jesus and his friends. I’ve meditated on what it must have been like to be there with him. I’ve considered what it will be like when we eat with him in heaven. And I’ve learned a thing or two about service and beauty and community. You know, I’d like to share that with you. I’d like you to learn that too.

I know how I would have responded: “Sign me up.”
I was struck by how much that interchange reminds be about how we do so much in the church. Whenever we talk about the things that we do in the life of the church we speak of them as duties – as things that need to be done. When we recruit new people to take on somebody’s old job, we talk about how it is somebody else’s turn. We rarely talk about why we do things beyond the simple assumption that they just need to be done. We don’t talk about the things that we do as spiritual practices and disciplines that bring meaning in and of themselves.

We really need to start asking the why question – why do I sing in the choir, why do I teach Sunday School, why am I an elder – with a willingness to go deeper into the meaning of it all. The answer that it just needs to be done is no longer good enough.

Tonight many leaders in the congregation will gather to look at our long-range plan – to renew our objectives and think about how they will work out practically. This reminds me that we cannot do any of that without a willingness to talk about the why questions – about what our purpose really is and how we can all get meaning out of what we do.
Continue reading »

A Noble theme (Reason for the Title)

Posted by on Monday, May 14th, 2012 in Minister

When you buy new a computer online direction from Apple, you are given a free option. They offer you free engraving. So when I bought an ipad from Apple about a year ago, I had a problem. I was not about to let a free engraving go to waste! But what would I engrave on my new device? Just putting my name simply didn’t seem to be enough. I wanted something that reflected my approach to life. After some deliberation I finally settled on these words:

“Scott McAndless - ‘My heart is stirred by a noble theme.’”

I chose to engrave that not merely because it fit in the allotted space and didn’t include any prohibited characters. I chose it because it reflected my approach to the writing that I do – the writing that I expected to do on the ipad.

The verse is taken from the Book of Psalms (NIV version):

Psalm 45
My heart is stirred by a noble theme
    as I recite my verses for the king;
    my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

It just seemed to capture my approach to writing. I do believe that God does stir the hearts of people and stirs them particularly towards noble themes – themes of truth and beauty, hope and love. My job is to be open to those stirrings and ready to record them.

God can use anything to stir us – a sight, a sound, a passage of scripture or a moment of quiet reflection. Often the stirrings that come to me are used in my sermons or scripts or in the other things that I write. But I want to use this blog as a place to put my other stirrings – especially the brief ones that God brings to mind and that I would like to share.
Continue reading »