News Blog

“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.
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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.
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The Academy of St. Andrew’s Stars!

Posted by on Friday, May 11th, 2012 in News

The Academy is presently accepting nominations for our awards gala on Sunday, June 10, 2012 (following the service).  Please find nomination slips at the back of the sanctuary.  You may nominate as many Stars as you wish in such categories as:  Best Deity, Best Disciple, Best Line, Best Crowd Member, Best Hair Stylist, or any category that you think deserves recognition!  There are ballot boxes at the back of the sanctuary for your completed nomination slip.  Any questions?  Please talk to Scott or Joni.
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TLC (Teacher/Leader) Workshop

Posted by on Monday, April 30th, 2012 in News

Anyone who is involved in ministry with babies, children and youth are warmly invited to attend our Annual TLC Workshop on Monday, May 28th beginning at 6:00 pm with gathering and refreshments.  Opening Worship will begin at 6:30 pm.  We will all begin with our annual Leading With Care orientation and then move to our choice of workshop.  The evening will end with prayer at 9:05 pm.  There is a free will offering to cover the cost of refreshments.

You can still register for this event.  There are still some seats available.  For more information please speak with Joni Smith <[email protected]>

To register online, please visit:

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Rick Warne’s graduation

Posted by on Monday, April 30th, 2012 in News

Rick is graduating, after 8 years of hard work and studying!  He will graduate on Wednesday, May 9th @ 7:30 pm. at Convocation Hall, University of Toronto.  We are arranging bus transportation, so please call the office if you are interested.
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