Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles

The book of Acts can present as a collection of hyperboles. Fire from heaven, dramatic exorcisms, adventure on the high seas, earthquakes and arrests. In some ways this seems appropriate, because it’s the story of Jesus’ first followers after all. How they began to share the story of Jesus’ life and resurrection, with the Holy Spirit invariably appearing to add dramatic flair.

But, if we take time to look a little closer, we find that there are a bunch of stories here showcasing the haphazard, serendipitous, and mundane ways in which the first Christians went about trying to be faithful. The ways in which they encountered the divine. The ways in which they discovered, as N.T. Wright says, that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures was “doing a new thing in the whole world.”

Seeing this, we can affirm that while the Church’s genesis was marked by spectacular action, it was also expressed in ordinary human experience. That the Holy Spirit was at work in spectacular events and day-to-day monotony alike. And we can consider how the same might be true for us.


Acts ch2 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we are diving into a summer series on the book of Acts. The Acts of the Apostles is a collection of stories about how the followers of Jesus became what we know as the Church.


Acts ch4 - Devon Scott

Discussion Notes

This week’s texts are located in what is known as the Jerusalem passage, and they record some of the earliest persecution that the church experienced.


Acts ch5 - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

This week we looked at two stories we find at the beginning of Acts— both these stories are intense and strange and full of drama. And these stories don’t wrap up nicely or end tidily — they are confusing, and we can be a bit uncomfortable with having them in our Bibles.


Acts ch10 - Jim Cresswell

Discussion Notes

It’s been a while since the feast of Pentecost, where this series started. The church in Acts has continued to grow, but with that growth has come serious and deadly persecution. The story of Jesus has started moving outward, and two main protagonists move this narrative forward— Paul and Peter. Today, we focus in on part of Peter’s story.


Acts ch16 - Maddie McBlain

Discussion Notes

This week, we look at part of Paul’s story. Acts 16 shows us what it looks like for people from vastly different walks of life to encounter the good news. We meet a wealthy business woman, a girl in slavery, and a man who works in a prison.


Acts ch17 - Yelena Pakhomova

Discussion Notes

In his speech at the Areopagus, Paul adapts the way he presents the story of Jesus— he puts this story of grace into a language that connects with those he is speaking to. In Athens, Paul finds that the God he worships has been at work in places he didn’t expect. While the city is filled with idols, it is also filled with the Holy Spirit, working through those who worship God.


Acts ch19 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen Paul in Philippi and Athens, and this week we follow him to Ephesus. These were the three major cities in the ancient world with their own flavour and customs. Each of the cities presented their own challenges to Paul and early Jesus story. One could tell a lot about the culture of each city based on that city’s particular temple to a particular god of the Greco-Roman pantheon around which the life of that city and its commerce was built. Philippi had Pan, Athens had Athena, and Ephesus was built around the temple of Artemis.


Acts ch27 - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

We are nearing the finale of the book of Acts. This summer through the Acts sermons we’ve covered topics like the forward-facing journey in faith, the complicated struggles that come when you start something new, the serious business of being the temples of the Spirit, and so much more. Today, we come to the shorter, colder days for the Apostle Paul. Paul leaves prison after two years. And still as a prisoner, Paul is put on a ship for Rome.


Ritual

Ritual

We believe we need a recovery of sorts. Contemporary culture has pushed us to think that public life is mostly structured (show up on time, fulfill your obligations, do your job), but private life is mostly unstructured (free time to use as you see fit). But what happens then when spiritual life is relegated to the unstructured part of life, to our private“off work” world where there are few obligations? Well, it tends to exist in emotional spurts, through momentary impulses. It tends to lose focus. You know what I am talking about.

And so the recovery we need is the wisdom of basic spiritual ritual. Grace is not only a gift, grace is also a way of being. Grace is the life we are called to enter, the life of form and formation.

It’s been said that we don’t so much think our way into new life but instead live our way into new thinking. In this way, our spiritual identities are shaped through sustained commitments to gracious practices: practices of time like honouring sabbath, practices of stewardship like generous giving, practices of self-forgetfulness like service.

This is a series about some of our central rituals: work, rest and play.


The Ritual of Work - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

If what drives our imagination of work is hoping we won’t have to, that’s a problem— because work was created by God to be holy. In fact, the very beginning of Genesis starts with God doing work. And then humanity is tasked with doing more of the same— more work. They are instructed to take care of the land around them, and be fruitful, and to reproduce. Work wasn’t originally supposed to be just about surviving. It was (and is) the way we participate with God in the ongoing creation of the world.


The Ritual of Rest - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we spoke about how work and rest depend on one another— all rest without work isn’t healthy, nor is all work and no rest. Sometimes rest is actually harder than work; while work tends to have tangible outcomes, rest can feel unproductive. We may think that sabbath rest is something God wants from us… but it was actually something God wanted to give to us. Sabbath shows us that while we are loved for what we offer, we are equally loved for what we don’t.


The Ritual of Play - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Play is the space where we can give ourselves what we need to be who we are, and where we can give to something outside of ourselves. Giving time to that hobby you never seem to have time for, investing in the relationships that matter to you, and serving those in your community… this is all play. It is where we create and contribute and participate in the stories that sit somewhere firmly between work and rest.


Proverbs

Proverbs

When it comes to the words that inspire us, we can all think of quotes by writers, rappers, and filmmakers. Words are important, powerful, and help us construct meaning in our lives. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to read a quote that makes you think “Yes, that is how I feel!” and “Yes, that’s what I think too!”

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of ancient quotations. It belongs to the category of biblical books we call the wisdom literature. It’s found right in the middle of the Bible, but we rarely think of the words in this collection as central to the wisdom in our everyday lives. Proverbs is often overlooked, can seem pretty dusty, and when read too quickly is a blur of cliches.

Let’s take another look at Proverbs. Let’s trust that there’s something here for us in our big life questions about how to be wise in relationship with our families, our bodies, our resources, and our power. Proverbs hands us a way to find wisdom in the ordinary. It’s about the art of living and seeing the beauty of God in the grit of everyday life.


Part 1 - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

This week we talked about wisdom and isolation. The text we read in Proverbs depicts a young man who chooses the path of folly instead of that of wisdom. Through these poems we find that the path of foolishness leads to isolation— from God and from those around us. The path of wisdom, on the other hand, leads to life and blessing.


Part 2 - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

This week we dove into what Proverbs has to say about wisdom and decision making, and we discussed what the path of wisdom might look like in our relationships to our family, ourself, our friends, society, and God. The proverbs that speak to us in the ways we need will open life up, so that we can see God’s presence in the most every day and ordinary things.


Part 3 - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

The truth is, wisdom isn’t always our default— As much as we want to make great decisions and live well, we mess up all the time, in big and little ways, when we take a path that brings trouble. And this sort of foolishness doesn’t happen overnight… foolishness happens slowly. In our conversation this week we turned to the appendices of Proverbs, contained in chapters 30 and 31, to talk about the contrast between wisdom and domination. Wisdom calls us to use our power to honour those around us, and to use our voice to speak up against injustice.

When in Rome III

When in Rome III

What is the “good news” of Jesus Christ? Why do people need to hear it? How can they experience it? What will it mean for their future? And what does the good news have to do with everyday life? These large and basic questions from Paul’s agenda in Romans—anagenda dictated by a combination of audiences, circumstances and purposes.

Two years ago we started into the book of Romans, working our way verse-by-verse through the letter. This year, we pick up where we left off and keep moving forward into chapters 5 to 8.


Romans ch1-4 Recap - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Paul went from persecutor and supporter of violence against the Jews to leader and evangelist of the budding new Christian church. It was not a smooth transition, and his personality still remained, but we can see that Paul was welcomed into a transformative relationship with Jesus and it forever changed him and the world.


Romans 5:1-11 - Joel Braun

Discussion Notes

In this chapter is the famous verse about rejoicing in suffering because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance; character, and character; hope. We spent time talking about how true hope is formed from our character that is made stronger by persevering through suffering. God rebuilds us, remakes us, and renews our hearts and minds into new versions of ourselves that have access to this true hope.


Romans 5:12-21 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

In the second half of this chapter, Paul goes on to say that despite the sin and brokenness present in and all around us, there is hope and healing available to us through Christ. Everything has been marred by sin, but at the same time, everything is being reconciled to God.


Romans 5:20-6:18 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week, as we moved into chapter 6, we saw how Paul explores the relationship between grace, and how we live in the world. Paul uses baptism to describe leaving our old life behind to move onto something new. And this process of leaving— of leaving behind old habits, harmful tendencies, and things that pull us away from love— this is only significant if we are also moving towards faithfulness. And, although death and pain is still present all around us, we can know that death is not all that it claims to be.


Romans 6:23 - 7:25 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This story of grace changes everything. But the question is, how do we live as if we are freed from sin when sin surrounds us? This is the tension that Paul leans into as we continue into chapter 7. This section of Romans shows us a side of Paul we may be unfamiliar with— someone who is frustrated, and confused, and distressed. However: despite all of Paul’s frustration with himself, we see that he holds onto the hope that God is fundamentally committed to saving us from the worst of ourselves. Our choices have consequences, but God is on our side, always.


Romans 8 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Paul's big idea in chapter 7 was that God gave us the law to show us what’s good, but the law can’t help us do what’s good— only love can do that. Now, in chapter 8, Paul explores big ideas about how God plans to redeem all of creation. God’s sovereignty is expressed in both the divine redeeming action in the world around us as well as in mysterious love. God never causes our pain— but he never leaves us alone in it.


Vision Sunday 2018

Vision Sunday 2018

vi-sion (noun): sight; the anticipation of what will come to be; a vivid, imaginative concept

Each year at this time we talk about our common vision. Each year we take time to look a little ahead of ourselves, project where our path might lead us, make adjustments if necessary, and reorient ourselves to our true north.

This is the chance to share what is on our minds and hearts, what it is we can do and be for our friends and families, for our communities and workplaces, for Calgary and our world. This is a day to find alignment as a community around some of our most exciting possibilities. And there is a lot on the horizon.

DISCUSSION NOTES

Vision Sunday