Ralph Connor Memorial United Church

The Little White Church on Main Street, Canmore, Alberta

Epiphany Sunday, January 3, 2021 – Matthew 2: 1-12

Journey with me, 12 months back, to the time that 2019 was ending and 2020 just beginning.  With the teens rolling into the twenties, there were a number of recaps, remembering back to 2010, and the things that had changed over a decade, and many we looked forward to a year of potential clarity, the year 2020 as a time of 20/20 vision.  Admittedly there was awareness of a recently reported, highly infectious form of coronavirus elsewhere in the world, …

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Mary and Elizabeth by Corby Eisbacher, American.

Sermon: December 20, 2020 – Luke 1: 26-45 – Advent IV

One of my favourite things about the Nativity narratives in the gospels, is the special role played by those outside the formal power structures: shepherds were considered uncouth and untrustworthy, yet according to Luke they were the first witnesses to the Christ child; the Magi were scholars, perhaps even nobility, but they not from Judea.  They were from a different land and a different religious tradition, yet according to Matthew were drawn by God to bear homage to the newborn …

Read moreSermon: December 20, 2020 – Luke 1: 26-45 – Advent IV

wildflower growing in Judean wilderness

Message for the Sunday of JOY – 13 December 2020

Today is the third Sunday in Advent, the Sunday of JOY. Watch at https://youtu.be/xAmhdJfNHBk  Download PDF at Sermon_13December2020_Adv3 Each year, this Sunday arrives, with its special pink candle signifying a break from the darker hues of pensive blue or penitential purple.  And every year I draw just a bit of a blank for JOY can be a rather distant word for folks like me who have journeyed with depression over many decades.   Words like pleasant, satisfying and enjoyable, I find easy …

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Stained Glass Holy Family

Sermon: December 6, 2020 – Advent II – Matthew 1: 18-25

As much as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is held in high esteem, the Bible tells us little about Joseph.   I know way more about the Patriarch Joseph, the one of the technicolour dreamcoat, than I do about this first male influence in the life of Jesus. Watch at https://youtu.be/Eo1ARzyw7i0 Download PDF at Sermon_06December2020-Adv2 On this Sunday of Peace, however, I wish to focus on one thing about Joseph:  he was the one who could have made …

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Sermon: November 29, 2020 – Advent I – Luke 3: 1-6

Hope.  What an important word for us right now. We need hope. With widespread fatigue and discouragement as public health needs necessitate greater restrictions, and the kinds of emotional and spiritual hopelessness that many people are experiencing, we need things that help us find hope: short term hope, close-to-home hope, as well as bigger, more far-reaching hopes for the world.  So long as it brings no harm to self or others, this is a time when we need to be …

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Sermon: Remembrance Sunday, November 8, 2020 – 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

Worry is a difficult and unpleasant companion. Download PDF: Sermon_08November2020 (1)  View at https://youtu.be/ZYLzMMYiMoU Sometimes, worry originates when our brain chemistry gets off-kilter, anxiety, fretting and insomnia take on a life of their own, and therapeutic intervention is required.  But often, worry has an origin you can identify, arising in a time of uncertainty, when we have just enough information to stimulate the fight, flight or freeze instincts and with worry. Sometimes we worry about ourselves – a lingering cough, …

Read moreSermon: Remembrance Sunday, November 8, 2020 – 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

Sermon: November 1, 2020 – Matthew 23: 1-12

Sometimes, when I read a scripture lesson in which Jesus says something really, really pointed, I wonder if I am on the giving side or the receiving side of what is being said.  Today’s scripture lesson, in which Jesus denounces hypocrisy with a version of the classic-and-catchy phrase, “practice what you preach,” leaves no such ambiguity.  As someone who first stepped up to a pulpit in 1981 and has had the audacity to do in the years since then, “preach” …

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Sermon: October 25, 2020 – Matthew 22: 34-40

LOVE is at the core of today’s gospel lesson. The first three gospels all recount the same story, of Jesus being asked which commandment is greatest, and in the fourth gospel Jesus volunteers some thoughts expressing the same sentiment. View at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQoyXyzgGug  Download PDF at Sermon_25October2020 In today’s reading from Matthew, and in the 12th chapter of Mark, the setting is the same as it was in last week’s gospel reading:  Jesus, recently and not-too-quietly arrived in Jerusalem, is asked …

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Sea of Galilee

Sermon: October 18, 2020 – Matthew 22: 15-22

An argument could be made, that even before he spoke his first parable, even before he gained his first disciple, even before the first person came to him for healing, Jesus was the kind of person the authorities would watch with suspicion.  The reason?  He was from Galilee. View at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNRuCVCrm_Y  PDF at Sermon_18October2020 What do we know about the Galileans?  For years, I have heard that mostly-rural Galilee would have been regarded as somewhat of a “backwater” in the …

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Sermon: Thanksgiving Sunday, Oct 11,2020 – 2 Cor.9: 6-10

Thanksgiving Sunday is a day for returning thanks, for expressing our gratitude.  What I’d like to do today, is to go one step beyond that… from gratitude, to generosity. Listen at Ralph Connor Canmore YouTube Channel,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGwCVmy7pIs PDF download here: Sermon_11October2020_Thanksgiving Today’s scripture reading from 2nd Corinthians uses an agricultural analogy that is easily relatable: “the one who plants little harvests little, and the one who plants plenty harvests plenty.”  Anyone who has put seed in the ground, will know …

Read moreSermon: Thanksgiving Sunday, Oct 11,2020 – 2 Cor.9: 6-10