Past Sermon Series

  • Hope: An Acquired Taste

    At the end of his book, Surprised by Hope, theologian NT Wright names three critical tasks of the Church as we participate in the Resurrection of Christ. The first task is justice; that is, actively participating in God’s ongoing work renewing the world. Another is evangelism, announcing this new creation and inviting others to participate. However, the third task he names may catch us off guard — the cultivation of beauty: “Beauty matters, dare I say, almost as much as spirituality and justice… Part of the role of the church in the past was — and could and should be again — to foster and sustain lives of beauty and meaning at every level, from music making in the village pub to drama in the local primary school, from artists’ and photographers’ workshops to still-life painting classes, from symphony concerts to driftwood sculptures. “The church, because it is the family that believes in hope for the new creation, should be the place in every town and village where new creativity bursts forth for the whole community, pointing to the hope that, like all beauty, comes as a surprise.” This Easter, as we celebrate the Resurrection and the new creation Christ announces, we will be working to take Wright’s claim seriously. In this series we shall seek to identify, discern, and enjoy the beauty with which God surrounds us and inspires within us. It may be that as we learn to cultivate a Christian sense of beauty, we will also learn…

    View Series
  • The Grit and Grace of Honesty

    Honesty as a societal norm is eroding. ‘Fake news’ has entered our vocabulary. With the click of a button we can enhance a photo. Forbes magazine predicts that in 2019, “skepticism will become the new trust,” as normal people encounter a mushrooming level of misinformation and deception on a daily basis. “Real is fake and sometimes fake is fake. How are we to know?” Jesus says: Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:3) Could it be that honesty is fast becoming a practice that distinguished Christ-followers? 500 years ago, in an era of persecution, early Anabaptists equated following Jesus with a life of honesty. So ardently did they practice integrity that in 1527, in the Schleitheim Confession, they agreed unanimously that refusal to take oaths was one of the seven principles of discipleship. This high value on honesty intersects with the ancient wisdom of Canada’s indigenous peoples. Honesty is one of the seven Grandfather Teachings of the Plains First Nations, along with Love, Courage, Humility, Wisdom, Truth, and Respect. Last year after Pentecost, we explored biblical teachings of Courage. This year for Lent we stories of Jesus through the lens of Honesty. Recognizing shared values between the Christian faith and the culture of First Nations is one way REC responds to calls for action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    View Series
  • Romans: God's Unlikely Dream for a Polarized World

    What comes to mind when you think of the book of Romans? Do you imagine theologians arguing about ‘justification?’ The ‘Romans Road’ to salvation? Those one or two verses that “all have sinned” or you should “renew your minds?” Or maybe this book is simply Greek to you — unfamiliar, and let’s face it, a bit unfriendly. If that’s you, fair enough! Romans is one of the most difficult and debated books of the Bible, with seemingly as many interpretations as there are verses. But underneath it all, Paul is trying to draw readers into a story — a story that calls two completely different people groups into life together. Paul is convinced that in Jesus, God is triumphing over the cosmic forces of evil in our world, and in doing so is bringing together Jews and non-Jews alike into this new world — a radical dream! Though the deep divides we experience today are different than in Paul’s this passionate, reasoned, and profoundly theological book may have more relevance than ever. This Epiphany, we at River East Church read Romans together to inspire us to be proactive, incorporating others into God’s dream that already unfolding here and now.

    View Series
  • The Glorious Impossible

    Advent is our journey from darkness to light as we anticipate the ‘glorious impossible’ of God taking on human form — God becoming one of us. The light comes, slowly, through our remembering the familiar symbols: candles of hope, peach, joy and love. But what of some of the other symbols, like holly, ivy, the poinsettia, and crèche? These appear all around us through Advent, but their meaning and origin have been obscured by tinsel and Santa Claus. This Advent, we explore these ancient stories, symbols, and traditions — may they deepen our steps toward the birthplace of an infant; Emmanuel, God with us.

    View Series
  • The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes

    What is the church to do with Ecclesiastes, a book filled with stark words and cynical observations on life, faith, and God? What do we do with a book that claims “everything – everything – is really and truly absurd…”? Peter Enns suggests that we dive in, embrace the tension, and let Ecclesiastes speak for itself. The book pulls no punches, but this captures an important aspect of human life that we do well to remember. Yet Enns hastens to say that the Christian reader can go a step further. Though Ecclesiastes shows us a bleak and brutal landscape, a Christian confesses that in Christ there is another, grander landscape beyond that horizon. It is in the light of this new dawn that we might bring Ecclesiastes to bear on our individual and corporate lives. For the next six weeks we will be working through Ecclesiastes with the Resurrection in mind — not to dull the painful words the Teacher aims at us, but rather to embrace them as Christ embraced the world. Furthermore, as we practice this difficult, Christ-like embrace, we will be packing relief kits in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee. One kit costs $50, and materials will be present in the foyer. Our goal is to pack 100 kits total — a reminder that although life brings absurdities, the church can still act for change in the name of Christ.

    View Series
  • Sabbath: Practicing God's Delight

    Pluck from the vine a ruddy tomato. Pinch basil leaves. Breathe deeply. Cultivate awareness. Perceive abundance. These are the signs of Sabbath — practicing God’s delight. Savour slow food. Enjoy conversation. Laugh, or cry, with neighbours. Welcome the stranger. Harvest truth. These are signs of Sabbath — practicing God’s delight. Live with wide margins. Flow with creativity. Find pleasure in your work and in the fruit of your labour. These are the signs of Sabbath — practicing God’s delight. In a ‘progressive’ culture that unconsciously struts status by a full schedule or equates worth with busyness… rest, ironically, can be hard work. Sabbath is not simply a break from frenetic, self-obsessed ways of living. Sabbath has the potential to redirect and transform all our existence, bringing it into more faithful alignment with God’s life-building and life-strengthening ways. Sabbath life is a truly human life — abundant, because it is founded in God’s overarching design for all places and all times.

    View Series
  • A Cloud of Witnesses

    The Christian faith spans generations, languages, cultures, and continents. For 2000 years, Christians the world over have experienced, practiced, and proclaimed the risen Christ — and today, each of us have received from these spiritual ancestors. This summer, Jubilee Mennonite Church and River East Church are once again partnering for our sermon series… but this year looks a little different. Instead of writing new sermons for each Sunday, preachers will be speaking with the words of someone else — words they’ve received that have gotten under their skin. Be it a mentor, a family member, a famous person or someone long deceased, this series nods to those who have gone before us, the great ‘Cloud of Witnesses’ that we stand with across time and space.

    View Series
  • Courage

    Courage is what stories are made of. From antiquity ‘til today, people from every corner of the globe value courage. Plato named courage as one of the four cardinal virtues. The ancient Japanese named courage second of ten samurai moral values. Canada’s First Nations name courage as one of the seven Grandfather Teachings. For them, the bear symbolizes the gift of courage, the ability to face life with integrity, to do what’s right even when consequences are unpleasant. We live in an era of mounting anxiety. A year and a half ago, five Manitoba schools present at an Mennonite Brethren function — CMU, MBCI, MB Biblical Seminary, School of Leadership, Steinbach Bible College. Each one mentioned the growing challenge of responding to students with high levels of anxiety. Our hunger for courage is increasing. The God of the Bible cares about freeing people from the power of fear. Over 80 times, the Bible commands, “Do not be afraid.” Pentecost is the generous outpouring of God’s resources to face fear. In the Season after Pentecost, this worship series explores how the Christian faith, rooted in the Trinitarian God of the Scriptures, contributes to the global, timeless conversation on courage. Be alert to how the Christian understanding of courage dovetails with courage in other traditions, and how it is unique.

    View Series
  • Acts of the Holy Spirit

    The Holy Spirit has been described in many ways: An energetic fire that can roar or flicker, but never be held; A breath, as close to us as our lungs, so intimate we forget it is there; As wind, knowing no bounds and found in all places; A womb, the place where we are born again. The book of Acts has many characters, but none so central as the Spirit of God. In some ways this book is a new Genesis — the story of the God creating a new world and new people in the wake of Christ’s resurrection. Sometimes the Spirit moves in exciting ways… often the Spirit moves in ways we find challenging. This Eastertide, we will be walking through the book of Acts, looking for the ways the Holy Spirit shaped, spurred, and stimulated the early church into new ways of seeing and new ways of living. They practiced reconciliation, shared resources, and took care of their community through weekly remembering of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We will do the same by meeting at the Lord’s Table each Sunday throughout the Easter season.

    View Series
  • A Walk Toward Forgiveness: The Way of Letting Go

    Because the world is broken – and it is broken in so many ways – forgiveness is a virtue. We not only forgive, but we also need to be forgiving. It should be part of our character. – Wilma Derksen During the season of Lent, we accompany Jesus on his journey, not TO death, but THROUGH death, a journey TO resurrection and new life. This year we travel the Lenten journey as a way of becoming forgiving people: What helps Jesus forgive those who wrong him? How does following Jesus give us the resources to forgive when we have been hurt deeply? How do we receive forgiveness and grace from God? The good news is that God is trustworthy even when life and people betray and hurt us. Trusting God, Jesus taught us how he himself prayed, “Father, forgive us as we forgive those who sinned against us.” In her 2017 book, The Way of Letting Go: One Woman’s Walk toward Forgiveness, Wilma Derksen explores the choice of forgiveness after the murder of their daughter. She identifies 15 obstacles to forgiveness and narrates how she and Cliff let go of them. In some ways she breaks down the path of forgiveness into baby steps. For this Lent series we’ve chosen some of the obstacles that Wilma identifies, and we invite Scripture to give us resources to let go of these obstacles as they play themselves out in our own journeys of forgiveness. Each week during Lent, look for a prayer…

    View Series
  • Making Space

    Epiphany is a word that feels like it should have an exclamation point following it: Epiphany! It is that moment of joyful discovery, a shift in perspective, a new space opening up in one’s heart, mind, and spirit. No wonder the early Christians chose the word “Epiphany” to describe the revelation of God through the incarnation of Jesus. This Epiphany season, River East is following this theme of inviting the Spirit to ‘make new space’ within us. Preachers have chosen a favourite word, story, or theme from Scripture — something they each have been ‘chewing on’ for some time — and will be offering them in a new light. Each Sunday will be an exploration of different territory, so be prepared to make new space!

    View Series
  • Reconstruct: The Building Blocks of Faith

    In our postmodern era, we are encouraged to deconstruct the world around us. Many may ask, What Canada 150 is really celebrating? Who is really benefiting from that legislature? Why are those voices heard, but others are not? What underlying assumptions are driving our society, for good and for ill? Religion is hardly exempt from these questions. Christianity is regularly picked apart, questioned, and scrutinized — this is often a good thing that promotes dialogue, nuance, and spiritual growth! However, deconstruction without reconstruction is merely destruction. In this series, we are asking, ‘What is beautiful about the Christian faith that we wish to affirm?’ We will consider several paradoxical ‘building blocks’… challenging questions that take seriously the critical lenses of our world, but also take just as seriously the new life made possible in Christ.

    View Series

Latest Sermons

  • “Someone call the priest! This is an emergency!”

    Genesis 14:18-20

  • The Great Meal—Then What?

    A sermon about poop, from Revelation 19:6-9. Note: our audio equipment ran into some trouble at the beginning of this sermon. Rianna was kind enough to re-record the introduction on her drive to the airport. We’ve spliced the two files together — that’s why the audio quality changes so drastically

  • For What Do We Hunger?

    1 Peter 1:3-9