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Scott Wall

Summer with the Psalms

Summer with the Psalms

Prayer is a pretty big deal. After all, at Commons we opened this year with prayer and we’re closing the year with prayer. From the Lord’s Prayer in the fall, to the Psalms prayer book in the summer, we’ve got instructions and illustrations to shape our prayerful souls in all seasons.

So what’s prayer to you? Is it the recitation of prayers you learned as a kid? Is prayer the words that spring up inside you like “thank you,” “help me,” and “I’m so sorry”? Maybe prayer is becoming less wordy and more connected to deep breaths, centred contemplation, and heart-soaring awe.

There are Christians in all kinds of traditions that pray the Psalms every day, morning and night. And sure, the prayerful poems are more familiar year after year, but they never stop speaking and shaping the human heart before God. Dive into the Psalms with us this summer and find yourself refreshed with honesty, lament, and praise.

Discussion notes for the summer series

Psalm 1

Bonus Material

The beauty of the psalms is that they invite us to be honest with ourselves about everything we are feeling because that’s the only way our anger and frustration with the world can be transformed into motivation and hope to change it.

Psalm 13

Bonus Material

Sometimes we have a tendency to universalize the particular moment we are experiencing. ie. "This is all I will ever feel again." The chance to reset and reform our perspective is as important for us as it is for the author of Psalm 13.

Psalm 14

Bonus Material

There is a kind of beauty that we notice instinctively and then there is a beauty that we need to see through someone else's eyes. We need their perspective and background and story to help us notice the beauty that is around us always.

Psalm 26

Bonus Material

When you read the opening of Psalm 26 you can see the author lose sight of his objectivity as he recounts his blamelessness before God. And that's okay. There's a time to objective and then there's a time to be honest about how we feel. Remember that.

Psalm 32

Bonus Material

Part of the reason poetry is so vital to the scriptural narrative is that it reminds us how limited literal language really is.

Psalm 42

Bonus Material

There is sometimes a very fine line between being honest with our grief and allowing it to be honoured, and then slipping over the edge into self-destructive, self-pity.

Psalm 65

Bonus Material

All of our ideas about God are just ideas. None of our concepts can actually contain the Divine. And so unless we intentionally create room for humility, and silence and mystery in our worship we are really just worshiping our own ideas. And that's idolatry.

Psalm 99+100



Christmas is packed with personal traditions. Every year we hang up the same tree decorations. Every year we gather with our loved ones to celebrate the same big holiday. Every year we try to come up with a creative gift for someone special and basically get the same gift we did the year before.

So the question is, can the story of Jesus in a manger really surprise us one more time around? Can Christmas hold more meaning than all the ornaments, intricate family meals, and presents wrapped under the tree?

Advent is a time to return to the story of Jesus’ coming. And in returning, we find that we aren’t the same person we were even a year ago. The Divine’s coming to us in human flesh is charged with the unexpected. There’s the unexpected way an old story becomes new. There’s an unexpected baby who holds the mystery of the universe. There are unexpected angels sent to declare that heaven has come to earth and nothing is the same anymore.

Advent 1: The With-ness of God - Jeremy Duncan

DIscussion Notes

Today we are looking at how in the birth narratives both Luke and Matthew draw inspiration from and transform the text of Isaiah.

Advent 2: The Magnificat - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

Today we are looking at how the songs of Hannah and Mary expand our imagination of God and speak to our deepest needs.

Advent 3: The Flight - Scott Wall

Discussion Notes

Today we are looking at Matthew’s creative use of the prophet Hosea’s words, while reflecting on what it means to practice holy remembering during Advent and how God does not sidestep the costs associated with being human.

Advent 4: Full Filled - Jeremy Duncan

Christmastide - Yelena Pakhomova

Truth to Power

Truth to Power

Every culture and time needs a good prophet or two. We’re not talking about people who can predict the future, but people who can speak truth to power in creative, vibrant, and life-giving ways. People who look out for the purposes of God and the integrity of all humanity. Prophets paint a picture of what life should look like in the economy of God’s generosity and love.

Amos is one such prophet. He worked from Judah with a message for Israel thirty years before its fall. The tradition says that in his day, he spoke warnings to the wealthy who built their kingdoms on the backs of the poor. This was an unsustainable arrangement with power and Amos was charged by the Divine to deliver that message.

Let’s wonder together what it looks like to regain a prophetic edge. We are empowered to speak truth to the power of anything that holds more sway in our lives than it should. In this identifying and naming, we’ll nd ourselves living towards a vision like that in the last words of Amos – where we enjoy the generosity and the abundance of God. 



When a story is true, not just in fact but in its connection to life as it really is, it becomes a source of life. We get carried along with gracious surprise, finding pieces of ourselves, and who God is for us. This fall we follow the story of Jacob, that conflicted and restless man who wrestled with God.

One of our favourite theologians, Abraham Heschel, teaches us that the Bible is more about God’s search for us than our search for God. Jacob’s story is proof of that concept. For what we see here, in vibrant detail, is how God chases Jacob, pursuing him through his wanderings and failures until at the end of his story we see him fully caught by grace. He realizes all that has happened: “[Jacob] worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” (Gen 47:31)

This story has it all. The mystery of birth order, the stress of sibling rivalry, the common seeds of relational breakdown, the consequences of falsity, the hope of romance, the long years of labour, the burden of an unreconciled past, the glory of forgiveness, the life- changing effect of wrestling with God. It’s all here. 


Surprise! It's twins - Genesis 25:21-26

Even before Jacob and Esau are born their destinies seem predetermined. Their mother receives a message from God and even their names seem to describe the stories that will unfold in their lives. But if that's the case what does it means for us to engage with these ancient tales trusting that God is wiling to experience our journey alongside us, both the predictable and the unexpected?

Discussion Notes - Part 1

Birthrights - Genesis 25:27-34

So the boys grow up. One loves the outdoors and the other stays home near the tents. One is impulsive and brash and the other is crafty and opportunistic. Both have something to teach us.

Discussion Notes - Part 2

Hairy Arms - Genesis 27

Sometimes it feels like we need to take things into our own hands. But often when we do, and when we let loose our moral compass in the pursuit of what we think is 'good' we end up causing more damage than we imagined. God is interested in where we go. But God is equally interested in how we get there.

Discussion Notes - Part 3

On the Run - Genesis 28

The surprising thing about grace is that not only does often meet us in unexpected moments but that when it does it often speaks unexpected words. And here even as Jacob runs from his failures, his encounter with the divine is characterized by a scandalous grace and peace. 

Discussion Notes - Part 4

7 (14) Year Wedding - Genesis 29

Just when Jacob is starting to get his life back on track things take a strange turn. And this time Jacob is one who gets cheated. What does it mean when our best intentions don't produce the kind of results we imagined. Is God any less near to us?  * In the sermon Jeremy references a video about the #MeToo hashtag. You can find that video here.

Discussion Notes - Part 5

Face to Face - Genesis 31

Often times when we are deeply ashamed we attempt to cover our face. Sometimes even physically, more often by hiding behind a gift, or an email, or a gesture. However, somethings can only be done face to face and this is something Jacob will have to learn.

Discussion Notes - Part 6

Wrestling with God - Genesis 32

Well, this is it. The throwdown in Torah. The wrestling match between Jacob and YHWH. What a mysterious encounter as Jacob wrestles 'a man' but comes to know that somehow in the midst of his struggle he has encountered God directly. 

Discussion Notes - Part 7

Reconciliation - Genesis 33

Everything comes full circle as Jacob and Esau stand face to face once again. But this time both men have become something very different than they were at the start of this story. There is growth and maturity and reoconcilaition to encounter in this final story of Jacob.

Discussion Notes - Part 8


Holy Week 2017

Holy Week 2017

Holy Week

Palm Sunday - Bobbi Salkeld

Every year we realize that we need to tell and hear the story once more. Every year we find ourselves surprised by it, overwhelmed, and yet comforted in a way that’s hard to explain. Every year we are drawn back to humble worship, and the pledge of renewed commitment.
We invite you to take time to embrace the story:

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, April 9 as we celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.

Discussion Notes:
Palm Sunday 2017

Stations of the Cross 

On the Tuesday and Wednesday (April 11 and 12), we invite you to experience the Stations of the Cross, a rehearsal of the last hours of Jesus’ life. A specially prepared booklet will guide you through the stations and the church will be open from 9am to 9pm for you to come, reflect on the season and pray as we move toward Resurrection.

Download the Reflection Booklet here (print copies will be available at the church)

Good Friday - Scott Wall

Join us to remember Good Friday on April 14. We will have two services at 9AM and 1030AM.
The religious leaders derided Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” (Luke 23:35)

The Roman soldiers joined in with the taunt, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” (Luke 23:36)

One of the criminals hanging beside Him pressed the message upon Him, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39)

Everything about the cross event was bent to the task of pressuring Jesus toward self-preservation. The core essence of God’s character was under siege. The pivotal question of the ages hung before men and angels, Who is the Ruler of the universe? What is He really made of at heart? Will His love prove itself a sham under pressure, or will He plunge to the deepest depths of total self-sacrifice for others?

He could have saved Himself and abandoned us to our selfishness and hate. But He simply, profoundly, chose not to.

Resurrection Sunday - Jeremy Duncan

Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think.

I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.

However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.

–Peter Rollins

The Christian faith is an Easter faith. That means it is ultimately a joyous and hopeful view of the world. Christ has triumphed over the enemies of life. Death, sin, and despair have been given an expiry date. Love, hope, and mercy have fully guaranteed futures.

But this Easter faith we participate in, does not come cheaply or without challenge. There is a pathway to joy that must be taken seriously. Let us endeavour to truly follow the way of Jesus this Easter with grace and peace.

Discussion Notes:
Easter Sunday 2017