Tag Archives: Sermons

Jesus at The Arcade Fire concert

“This concert experience was totally different because of what we did at church this morning,” said Kailey, a fellow New Hoper who sat (stood dancing) beside me at the Arcade Fire explosion last night.   She’s right.  It was… for me too.  I must have seen twenty of the the same people who were in church that morning, that night at the Corral.  And there really was something about the correlation between what happened Sunday morning and what happened Sunday night.  That morning we’d sung/listened to four of same songs they played that night.  That morning I spoke about the “child-like” authenticity, forthrightness and integrity of the band.  That night I saw it expressed in each of the band members, via their dance, their voices, and their intense facial expressions.  That morning I spoke about AF’s stinging indictment of the modern man – our empty, sleepy, suburbs; our weak worldview capitulated lives; how we’re all in line for a number but we don’t understand –  and that night all of the prophetic power of those sentiments came down to bear on that Calgary crowd.  

That morning I spoke of listening to the music and, at times, feeling the Spirit of God hovering over the lyrics.  That night, as Arcade Fire sang Intervention, church organ keyboards in the background, it felt like Jesus was in the room… indicting the “faithful” for their failure to love others as they love themselves.   That morning I took three quotes from the song and interpersed them with three quotes from Jesus (directed at the hypocritical, judgmental Pharisee religious leaders);

“Working for the church, While your family dies
You take what they give you, And you keep it inside”  Arcade Fire

 “Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you let [people] disregard their needy parents.” Jesus in Mark 7:10-12, NLT

“Who’s gonna throw the very first stone?  Oh!  Who’s gonna reset the bone?  Walking with your head in a sling…” Arcade Fire

 “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Jesus, John 8:7, KJV

 “Been working for the church, while your life falls apart. Singing hallelujah with the fear in your heart, every spark of friendship and love will die without a home.” Arcade Fire

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to….you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness… You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean… “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”  Jesus in Matthew 23, various passages

And then after I read all six quotes I said, “Jesus speaking back then – directly – and today, via Arcade Fire… ”  That night, as I stood there scanning the congregation, it felt like the scenes were reversed!  That morning we brought Arcade Fire into church.  That night Jesus showed up at their concert.  Powerful.





an ant

antI took this picture of an ant the other day.  I love the diffused feel of it.   For months now I’ve been thinking about preaching on ants.   The idea of their collective mind doing more than any individual ant can do is intriguing.  Scientists and church communities operate the same way.

aliens among us

Stephen Hawking’s recent comment that an alien visit would not work out well for us – just like Columbus’ visit wasn’t very good for the natives – shocked a lot of souls.  When someone this esteemed makes this kind of comment you have to listen.  Last month 22,000 people were asked if they believed that aliens walk among us disguised as us.   20% of respondents (from around the world) said they thought they did!   20%!   I guess it just goes to show how strong a capacity God has built into us, to engage in the belief that an alien Other could, did and does walk among us…  and even looked like one of us!

Hallowed be thy game

Hockey is a unique product of Canada’s divine cultural calling — and one of its best.

This Sunday a sacred ritual will play out.

And the faithful will gather from sea to sea to sea. Congregating on the edges of our couches, eyes glued to our sets, we’ll get caught up in an ecstasy, lost in a glory. And for a few rapturous moments we’ll experience what can only be described as heaven on earth.

By John Van Sloten for the Vancouver Sun.

Read the full article here.

CBC Radio 1010 Calgary – sound bite on John’s upcoming “Hockey” sermon. (mp3)

Seeing God in a Defense Attorney

One day I’d like to preach on the justice system; how God is revealed through our society’s laws. Yesterday I found a great sermon introduction in the person of James Lockyer…

Lockyer is a defense lawyer famous in Canada for his work in freeing those unjustly imprisoned. Reading a short biography of the man in the Globe and Mail this weekend, I couldn’t help but think about how Lockyer’s heart is reflective of God’s.

“Each time he accompanies an exonerated murder defendant out of a courthouse and into a crush of reporters, James Lockyer lives a sublime moment that most lawyers can only dream of experiencing. As Mr. Lockyer stands off to one side, content and vastly relieved, his startled client – so recently reviled as the worst of the worst – struggles to describe what it is like to be welcomed back to the human race.”

Surely this is God’s heart of justice for all of us!

the parables are everywhere

I just saw this image in an old TIME LIFE book. The caption read, “A six year old orphan from Austria ecstatically embraces a brand new pair of shoes just given to him by the Red Cross.” It’s a powerful image, and in my mind it’s a parable; The parable of the prodigal son…

When that self-orphaned prodigal came home again, his gracious, Red Cross-like father embraced him, and gave him a new pair of shoes. Surely he felt like the boy in the photo. Surely this is the same parable. Surely Christ has authored both stories.

(The boy’s tattered old shoes reminded me of this Van Gogh painting)

And the images became this Easter Sunday sermon;

replicate this photograph

Ok, here’s the homework for this Sunday’s sermon on photography. Take a photo that looks like this photo. Try to make it look as much the same as possible. That’s it. It only took me ten seconds to take this very ordinary shot, with no real planning or preparation. So it shouldn’t take you too long to replicate it. Then email your image to stories@openoureyes.ca and to me at johnvs@newhopechurch.ca Thanks!

And here’s our first attempt…

And our second (clever!)…

why new hope church?

OK. I need some help for next week Sunday’s message. As I mentioned at church this morning, I want to know why you find a connection with New Hope Church (assumming you do). What is it about this church that makes it relevant to you? Why are you a part of this community? If you could just post your response as a comment (or email it to me), it would be greatly appreciated.
Listen John’s message here

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 11:57 AM PST
I’ve been to lots of churches over the years. I was born into the Anglican tradition. I’ve been to the Vineyard, and a nondenominational church that tried to bridge the gap between Christianity and the New Age movement. All of these communities had a different focus and flavour, and they were all good for me for a season. I believe that God creates communities and places for people within communities. For this season I believe God has created a place for me here – at New Hope. He has something for me to do here, and something for me to learn here. I’ve never been one of those people who worries too much about the denomination of a church. As Bono once told Oprah – “I don’t care whose name is on the house, as long as God is in the house.” (Or something like that). God is in the house here!
I’ve been working on this theory over the past few years that I like to call “Practical Mysticism”. My personal version is still full of holes, but the gist of it is that God manifests himself through people. We pray for the world to be a better place. God tells us to get up off our knees and give money to help out Inn From the Cold or Thandana or Ubuntu. He tells us to sign up as a volunteer, or stop to talk to that person who looks down, or be nice when you’re out driving on the winter roads. We somehow participate in making the world a better place. There is some sort of balance between experiencing God in that indescribable, vertical, mystical thinness, and living God as we interact with the world around us. New Hope is all about finding God and living God in everything we do – in short – ‘Practical Mysticism’.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 01:15 PM PST
Initially I came because my kids really liked it. Now I come because the vision here is what I think the vision of a church should be, it fits with who I am and how I think. I also stay because of the people, there are some amazing people here, thinkers, doers, encouragers, lovers – all giving the gifts and talents they have.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 02:03 PM PST
i love that families are working together at new hope – serving others and making church happen. kids handing out programs with their parents, stacking chairs, passing the collection baskets and helping out with kids younger than they are. awesome.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 03:32 PM PST
As I’ve attended NHC my uderstanding of God has continued to grow. The idea of God being always present, always active in my life has awakened me to a whole new perspective of my daily routine. God cares about my job, family, even my hockey team…He not only cares but I sense his presence on those tough days, or whispering in my ear when decisions have to be made. You see, when I opened myself up to the possibility of God “doing stuff” all around me, every day of the week, it seems as though that not a week goes by where I don’t trip over God revealing himself in a way I never thought of before. It is not just a Sunday morning thing where I learn more about God any more. It is because of Sunday morning that I learn more about God and what he is doing in my life and life all around me every hour and every day of the week. And this is just my little, navel gazing life, my imagination is too small to take on what God does in this world fully and completely. So this is why New Hope is my church, to unlock more of the mystery, and to do this in a community of people who care and serve. C

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, December 31 2008 @ 07:36 AM PST
When I attend New Hope, I’m always excited to hear what Pastor John has to say. His inspirational words always lift my spirit and give me the hope that I need to get through another week of my life. Pastor John relates all things going on in the current world to God and gives me a new perspective on them. A pastor is a very important part of a church for me, as I crave encouragement and enlightenment and Pastor John always delivers. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 03 2009 @ 05:53 PM PST
Why NHC for me?
It is a place to see and feel and know and love and experience and believe in God without borders and without the requisite shame that came with the God of my youth. It is a place to be real about who I am …about what I think or feel or believe or wear. It is a safe place to wonder..to worship, to be disillusioned even. It is a place on a journey…like all of us…a little messed up like all of us…
It is (usually) a place I like to be. 😉

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 03 2009 @ 09:36 PM PST
It was march of last year that I attended the baptism of my friend and her children at New Hope Church. In addition during this time I was going through some emotional turmoil in trying to understand and grieve the death of my father. I really enjoyed the service and found New Hope a welcoming environment. I found comfort and a hopefulness for peace in understanding that death happens for a reason; to believe in a higher power. It helps that I do have friends attending this very church and attending feels “right” for me and my family. My family enjoys that Pastor John brings real life matters and relates it back to the scripture and what it means to believe in God. This church environment is not one that we have previously experienced and enjoy what New Hope has to offer. Thank You!