March 22, 2020
During this time of physical separation due to coronavirus (COVID-19), the Reverend Wes Denyer preaches on how we will pass through this time in the wilderness as we support one another and trust in God.
March 8, 2020
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to try and understand his teachings. Jesus invited Nicodemus to allow his life to be radically transformed and renewed by the love of God. Jesus still invites his followers to let their lives be changed in revolutionary ways, so we might courageously live out the life and example of Jesus of Nazareth today.
March 1, 2020
As we celebrate the message of Mr. Rogers — being in a good relationship with our neighour, how do we live in a way that blesses the life of our neighbour? Could it be that we should think less about what we receive because of our faith, and more about what our faith calls us to give to others?
February 23, 2020
When Jesus is transfigured on the mountaintop, the story tells us Jesus is transformed – his face shines like the sun and his clothes glow with a brilliant white light. The disciples are at first terrified, but then are so thrilled by the experience, they want to stay on the mountaintop to bask in the wonder and glory of God. However, we can’t live on the mountaintop. We must return to the realities of everyday life. The question we ask ourselves is this, “How do we find God after we come down from the mountaintop?”
February 9, 2020
Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock produced a film called “Supersize Me.” In this film he looked at the effects of over consumption of fast food in our culture. Is it possible that it’s not only fast food that gets supersized in our culture? Maybe we’re trying to supersize everything in a culture of over consumption and the scarcity of time. Could it be that this makes it more difficult for us to immerse ourselves into the bigger and deeper questions and issues of life that our faith calls us to consider?
February 1, 2020
In scriptural times, the prophets challenged the nation and its leaders. Is that still possible from the pulpit in 2020? What, if any, is the role today of prophetic preaching that may challenge politicians or the conscience of a nation? Can we mix politics and preaching?
January 26, 2020
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth more than to any other church. It wasn’t because this church was his favourite, it was because this church had so many problems. Why was there so much trouble in the Church at Corinth? Did they have inadequate leadership? Was it because they faced persecution? Was it the struggle of trying to bring Jews and Gentiles together in one congregation? Was it because the congregation was economically diverse? Or was it something else entirely?
January 12, 2020
The writer of the Gospel of John claims that “we know God.” Can we know God? Do we know God? Does God exist? Can we live without God? How do we understand God in terms of the suffering in the world? What is the difference in knowing God intellectually and knowing God in relationship?
December 29, 2019
The party’s over: what are we looking forward to now? Not just New Year’s!
The movement and anticipation doesn’t stop in the story after the birth.
That birth is more of a beginning, a pattern for life
December 22, 2019
The Gospel of Matthew begins its Christmas story with the recounting of 42 generations of ancestors culminating in the birth of Jesus. This family tree is full of flawed people, and ends with Joseph who is not even the biological father of Jesus – a man who in fact considered abandoning Mary when he found out she was pregnant. In the midst of this, it’s possible the writer of the Gospel is reassuring us that God is forever grafting our flawed and fractured selves into a story of immeasurable hope.
December 15, 2019
In the Magnificat, sung by Mary before the birth of Jesus, there is a promise to the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed: “God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Of course, even two thousand years later, this promise has not been fulfilled. How have the institutions of our society, not only now, but over many hundreds of years, been complicit in support of the wealthy and the oppression of the poor … and what can be done to make a difference in that situation today?
December 1, 2019
In Scripture we find apocalyptic literature talking about the end of time and the coming of the Kingdom of God. Some have interpreted this as a future threat to humanity in violence, war and tumultuous times. Perhaps in this week’s reading from the Gospel of Mark, we might come to understand scripture in a different way, as Jesus re-interprets what it might mean for God to break into human history
November 24, 2019
When the two disciples met the Risen Christ on the Road to Emmaus, they didn’t recognize him … which seems surprising! In scripture there is much discussion of blindness and seeing. Not simply physical blindness, but spiritual blindness as well. How do we “see” the world and how does the way we see the world make a difference in our attitudes and in our actions?
November 17, 2019
In one of his sayings, Jesus reminds us to build our lives on solid rock rather than on shifting sands. This Sunday, we contrast those two different ways of grounding our lives. What does it look like when we build on sand, and how do we build a life that will have a strong foundation?
November 10, 2019
During the Second World War Padre John Foote chose to be a POW under the Nazis to minister to other prisoners for 3+ years. There are many ways we can lay our lives down for our friends: the call is not merely to sacrifice being alive, but to live a self- sacrificing life to serve others, and to serve the Gospel call to peace.
November 3, 2019
The Reverend Wes Denyer preaches a sermon entitled “The Longest Journey.” In the Sermon on the Mount we find what we have come to call The Beatitudes. These are blessings which Jesus pronounces upon certain types of people. This Sunday we will look at one of those beatitudes – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Who might be the “pure in heart,” and what does this mean for them?
October 27, 2019
In the letter the Apostle Paul writes to his friend Timothy, Paul vacillates between confidence and insecurity - between sounding prayerful and sounding petty. At the end of this Sunday’s reading, Paul appeals to Timothy, “Come before winter.” It is a cry for help - sacred, human and true. As people of faith, we wait for God. And as people of faith, we cannot forget those who wait for us.
October 13, 2019
We are prone to judge the value of other people in terms of wealth, beauty and status … but is this the way God thinks about us? Is it possible that God sees every human soul, no matter how humble and lowly, as infinitely precious?
October 6, 2019
Jesus tells a parable of a man who discovers treasure buried in a field, and he goes and sells everything he owns to buy that field. The man in the parable fully commits himself to clear and decisive action in order to accomplish his purposes. He does not hesitate, but gambles everything he has in order to obtain the treasure. Why did Jesus tell this parable and what might it tell us about how to live out the life of faith in 2019?
September 29, 2019
Before the Apostle Paul became a disciple of Jesus, he was an angry young man named Saul, and he took upon himself the task of trying to wipe out the fledgling, first century church. Why was he so angry at the existence of the church, and its desire to go beyond its Jewish beginnings and share God’s message of love and hope with the whole world? What did Saul feel was being lost, and how did he change as he came to embrace and encourage that early church to grow and thrive?
September 22, 2019
Last Sunday, we considered a parable of Jesus, that many people find to be unpleasant and lacking compassion. In keeping with the subject of parables, and the difficulties they pose … this Sunday’s parable is one that doesn’t really seem to make sense! This parable is commonly called “The Parable of the Dishonest Manager,” and it involves rather shady business practices … and Jesus seems to approve of them!
September 15, 2019
In the Gospel of Matthew we find the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Maidens. In many of the parables of Jesus we encounter a generous and forgiving God. However, in this parable, God is portrayed as stern and unforgiving toward those who are not ready for the coming of Christ, identified in this story as “the bridegroom.” What do we do with parables like this and what do they tell us about the Kingdom of God.
September 8, 2019
In the Gospel of Mark we read the tender and beautiful story of Jesus embracing and blessing the children. The moral of this story comes in the words spoken by Jesus, "Let the little children come to me and do not stop them because to such as these belongs the Kingdom of God … unless you receive the Kingdom of God like one of these little children, you will never enter it." But what does Jesus mean when he says, “we must receive the Kingdom of God like children if we want to enter it?" In this sermon, we’ll explore that question together.
September 1, 2019
August 25, 2019
Life in the 21st century is busier now than ever before. There are so many things that compete for our time – technology, movies, sports, work and television. On top of all these distractions, we still have to keep a house, raise children and find time to develop relationships with family and friends. The ancient Hebrew people believed that honouring the Sabbath as a day of rest would help us to keep from feeling overwhelmed. Is it possible that we need to honour that same practice today … or find ourselves at risk of losing our sense of meaning, perspective and purpose?
August 18, 2019
In renaissance paintings of Jesus, he is always depicted with a halo of light around his head. This identifies who Jesus is as the resurrected Christ. This makes it easy to know him as the Son of God, and to know what he represents. It’s more difficult for us who are followers of Christ. How do our lives show who we are as Christians? How will anyone see a difference in us, indicating our faith commitment and loyalty to the way of Christ in the world?
August 11, 2019
Life in the 21st century can be very busy and noisy, filled with confusing technology and the demands of modern life. Is it possible that in the midst of this information overload we may lose ourselves and our faith? Perhaps some stillness and quiet may help us to reconnect with ourselves and with our God.
August 4, 2019
In this sermon we consider one of the stories Jesus tells, The Parable of the Rich Fool. Often this parable has been cited as an admonition against the accumulation of wealth, but the final line of the parable – “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God” – suggests something different. We will explore what the underlying meaning of the parable might be.
June 23, 2019
The Old Testament prophet Elijah lived 900 years before the birth of Christ. He challenged the ancient Israelites to stay faithful to God and not to worship false gods like Baal. Elijah seemed tireless in his energy and enthusiasm for the work of God, but eventually fighting against all the forces of evil became too much for him. In order to strengthen Elijah, God offers a simple response, which may be the same response we need in the 21st century to encourage and strengthen us as we meet the modern threats to justice and peace in our world today.
June 16, 2019
We no longer live in an age where everyone automatically goes to church on Sunday morning. In fact, one of the fastest growing groups in our society is people with no religion. Who are these people and what can we do to reach out to them? And what does a rather obscure text, written by the Apostle Paul two thousand years ago discussing whether or not to eat food offered to idols, have to do with any of this?
June 9, 2019
On the first Pentecost, a strong wind blew through the room in which the apostles were meeting, and tongues of fire alighted upon them. They proceeded to preach the good news to the gathered crowd, and each person heard them in his or her own language. That was two thousand years ago. What is the gift of the Holy Spirit in our day, and what does it mean for a modern world which so desperately looks for a word of hope and new life? Do we have something to share today?
June 2, 2019
The role of leadership in the church may often be a thankless task. Leadership is challenged and questioned, and the old notions of authority and respect have been eroded. However, in our anxious and difficult time, there are many people who feel lost, alone and despairing. Is it possible, in 2019, the most significant challenge facing the leadership of the church is looking out for those who feel vulnerable and afraid? We may not be able to fix what troubles them, but we can come along side them with support, encouragement and care.
May 19, 2019
In the Gospel of John, one of the ways in which Jesus is described, is as the Good Shepherd. What might the loyalty, care and protection of Jesus look like in our day and age, and how might we respond in a reciprocal way to the generosity and love of God toward us?
May 12, 2019
As we consider the place of LGBTQ Christians in the church. The Presbyterian Church in Canada has not yet been able to affirm a full and inclusive welcome toward our sisters and brothers in Christ who are LGBTQ … but is it possible we at Rosedale could do that?
April 28, 2019
There is no scientific proof for the claim that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, nor any proof of the Christian promise of eternal life. Since we do not have any proof of these things that can withstand the rigors of the scientific method, does that mean we must simply reject these claims out of hand? Could it be there is other evidence supporting the promises of God which needs to be considered? In this sermon we explore what that other evidence might be.
April 21, 2019
In the midst of telling the Easter story, all of the Gospel writers include narratives indicating doubt, uncertainty and disbelief regarding the resurrection of Christ. Why did they include these thoughts as they retell the story of Easter? What are they trying to tell their readers, both at the time of their writing, and those of us who hear these stories two thousand years later? In this sermon, we explore those questions.
April 14, 2019
On Palm Sunday we remember not only the triumphal entry of Jesus into the Holy City of Jerusalem, but we also turn our thoughts toward the upcoming events of Holy Week. We remember that the triumphal entry ended not at a throne, but upon a cross. In this Sunday’s sermon, we wonder about why that happened, and what makes us not so different from those people who turned their backs on Jesus as events took a dark turn on the way to the crucifixion of our Lord.
April 7, 2019
For this sermon, we read the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with costly perfume and then wiping his feet with her hair. Judas thought this was the waste of an expensive gift, which could have been sold with the money being used to help the poor. Jesus saw this in a different light. This event takes place only a week before his crucifixion … unbeknownst to her, Mary is anointing Jesus for burial. Is it possible that many of our most beautiful acts of kindness and generosity have meaning and significance deeper than we imagine
March 31, 2019
As we read the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we consider the age-old question: What is the nature of God? Is God loving and forgiving, or is God judgmental and vengeful? Throughout the history of the church, these two characterizations of God have competed with one another. In the sermon this Sunday, we dig a little deeper into those two narratives considering the nature of God.
March 24, 2019
When two of the disciples of Jesus, James and John, come to ask Jesus if they might have positions of high power and authority in the coming Kingdom, Jesus tries to help them understand the true meaning of discipleship. Leaders in God’s Kingdom will be people who are humble with a real desire to serve others, as well as a willingness to drink from the cup out of which Jesus will be drinking … the cup of suffering. This Sunday we will be exploring those themes as we try to understand how easy it is to crave the kind of recognition and power that offers worldly affirmation.
March 17, 2019
In Genesis 15:5 Abraham is assured by God, for the third time, that he and his wife Sarah will one day have children. In fact, God invites Abraham to try and count the number of stars in the sky, because the number of his heirs will be greater than that. In response to this promise, it says, “Abraham believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” This short verse of scripture, in the eyes of many Christians down through the centuries, makes Abraham the “poster boy” for faith. But what really happened in this moment of belief, and how did it happen? Does it give us any hints for living a life of trust in God today?
March 3, 2019
Most commonly when we hear a story from the Bible, we like to try and figure out what it means. With some stories this is simple. The story of the Transfiguration is not so easy to boil down into a single, obvious meaning, rather it invites us into an experience. Perhaps this story is not so much about learning something, as it is, along with the disciples of Jesus, entering into the presence of God, where we are forever transformed by this encounter with the divine.
February 24, 2019
At the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples, he promised to be with them forever. The infinite presence and grace of Christ is shown to us in God sending Christ to be with us, now and always, for wherever there is love, compassion and grace ... God is there.
February 17, 2019
Jesus' teachings are as challenging today as they were for the early church. As a reformed, and therefore reforming, church, how do we deal with holy scripture when it says something we don't like? This week we will be looking at the beatitudes as recorded by Luke and a portion of scripture from 1 Corinthians that challenges us to take a firm stand on what we believe about scripture.
February 10, 2019
The disciple Peter and his friends have their largest catch of fish ever, when Jesus shows them where to put down their nets. Now, as the wealthy owner of so many fish, Peter has to make the decision: Will he follow Jesus to accomplish the mission and ministry of God, or will Peter try to enlist Jesus into the fishing business as their guide!? It turns out, the decision to follow Christ is never an easy one …
February 3, 2019
In the early church of the first three centuries, Christians simply trusted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and in the love and grace of God. During the fourth century, the church decided it had to codify exactly what one needed to believe in order to be a “real Christian” … and we’ve been arguing about this ever since! Maybe it’s time to get back to simply trusting in the love and grace of God so we can all stop fighting.
January 13, 2019
In the United States this is the weekend set aside to celebrate the life and courage of Martin Luther King, Jr. His legacy reminds us of humanity’s struggle for dignity and freedom. Freedom can be lost in two different ways. We can become subject to the tyranny of those who have great power over us, or we can lose our freedom through our devotion to material things, addictive substances or other “lesser gods.” Over the centuries, Christianity has offered hope and courage, both to those who are oppressed by others, and those who have lost their freedom through their own carelessness. In this Sunday’s sermon, we reflect on the human desire to be free.
January 13, 2019
In preparation for our Anointing with Oil for Healing Service to be held on Sunday, January 20th following our regular service of worship, Wes takes us through his own first time and first-hand encounter with this practice. It’s new to many of us as Presbyterians, so the sermon will familiarize us with the scriptural roots, the tradition and experience of this way of understanding the presence of God in our lives.
January 6, 2019
Wes has an encounter with a troubled, retired business executive at a party, and this leads him to consider how the first century tale of the Magi visiting the Christ child, may give us answers as we try to respond to the spiritual malaise of our own century.
December 23, 2018
Every year we hope for Christmas to be special, bringing with it love and family, wonder and mystery. We long to experience something glorious and amazing. Could it be we are hoping for a fleeting glimpse of the sacred … of what lifts us up out of ourselves … a glimpse of the glory of God? We can’t manufacture that experience, but perhaps if we’re looking in the right way, we’ll discover the glory of God is with us all the time.
December 16, 2018
When we read the story in Luke about the early weeks in the life of Jesus, we find a strange mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Mary and Joseph are just one more ordinary couple fulfilling the ordinary Jewish rituals for their baby, who we can be sure looked like just an ordinary baby. However, as they present Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, an old, holy man and an old prophet, welcome Jesus, proclaiming him to be the salvation of the world and the redeemer of Jerusalem. Could it be that all of life is a strange mixture of the ordinary and the extraordinary, if only we have eyes to see and understand the depth, meaning and purpose of human existence from the perspective of God?
December 9, 2018
An experience of climbing a cliff, helps us to understand the challenges we face in life. The first century nation of Palestine, as it awaited the coming of the Messiah, was challenged by those who held power and control in this tiny, Middle Eastern nation. However, just when it seemed the darkest, the light of God broke in with the promise of peace, hope and justice. Nothing can stop this birth, either the first time it happened two thousand years ago, or as Christ comes to us today in the midst of the darkness and difficulties we may experience in 21st century life. Perhaps, in him, we will find the strength to “hold on,” because as it turns out … he’s already “holding on” to us.
December 2, 2018
During his entire adult life Jesus was a teacher and a story teller. Sometimes, like other teachers, he does that courageous thing of opening the floor for questions … and he was asked some tough questions! One day Jesus was asked, “When will God come again to be with us?” The answer they received from Jesus surprised them, but it’s an answer that continues, to this day, to invite us into an ongoing relationship of hope and trust in the generosity and love of God.
November 25, 2018
Our Old Testament reading (I Samuel 9:15-10:1) focuses on the anointing of Saul to become the first King of Israel. In an unexpected turn of events, the Prophet Samuel seeks out Saul while he’s on an errand from his father looking for lost donkeys. When Samuel finds Saul, he pours the oil of anointing over his head and declares him King of Israel by the authority of God. Saul becomes “a somebody!” However, as we’ll discover, the story of his kingship takes a dark and sinister turn for the worse … and there may be some lessons in this tragic tale that are still worth learning for us today.
November 18, 2018
In the First Letter of John, the author talks about “testing the spirits” to discern whether or not they are from God — whether they speak to us the truth or they speak to us of lies. An early practitioner of this practice of spiritual discernment was St. Ignatius of Loyola. While Ignatius was recovering from a grave wound he received in battle, he believed that two opposing influences were affecting his life — a “spirit of consolation” and a “spirit of desolation.” In this sermon we’ll explore how some of what he learned and experienced over 500 years ago, still applies to life in the 21st century.
November 4, 2018
During the time before the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in the first century, sacrifices of animals would regularly be made to compensate for the sins of the Hebrew people, both personally and corporately. This was the world into which Jesus was born, but through the life and death of Christ, a new way to reconcile ourselves to God was made available to us. In this sermon we explore the Parable of the Prodigal Son to gain a better understanding of what this new way to God looks like.
October 28, 2018
In the reading from the Gospel of Mark, we find two stories about Jesus healing people who are blind. The interesting motif used by the author of this gospel is that those who are blind are able to see who Jesus is more truly and faithfully than those who can physically see. So the question arises, “Do we see the truth, or like those who are physically blind, do we misunderstand the truth or even willfully refuse to see the truth?” For the 16th century reformers of the church, the question of what is true and what is false, was uppermost in their minds … as it still is for many of us today.
October 10, 2018
In chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark, we hear the story of the “Rich Young Ruler” who comes to Jesus wanting to know how he might inherit eternal life. This story can be found not only in the Gospel of Mark, but also in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but only the author of the Gospel of Mark includes two words that are missing in the other two accounts of this story we find in the Bible. Why might that be?
September 30, 2018
As we grow older, we may often be confronted by signs of our increasing age and growing nearness to death. Jesus experienced some of the same feelings we do, as he made his journey to Jerusalem with the disciples, recognizing that it would end with his crucifixion and death. Our own mortality is a condition we share with the entirety of the human race, however the resurrection of Jesus gives all of us new hope, not only for the afterlife, but also as it offers meaning and purpose to this life.
September 23, 2018
At the Last Supper, in an act of love and humility, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. As we celebrate another baptism this week, we will take the opportunity to explore the sacrificial love we find in families.
September 9, 2018
Many of us have a picture in our minds of Jesus as “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” but in this Sunday’s Gospel reading we discover a side to Jesus we often forget about. When Jesus is asked by a Syrophoenician woman to heal her daughter, the response of Jesus is not what we expect. In this sermon, we consider this unusual event in the life of Jesus to uncover what it may be telling us, not only about Jesus, but also about ourselves.
August 19, 2018
This sermon is based not only in scripture, but in the wonderful and iconic movie, The Wizard of Oz. In this familiar story, the Wizard is able to see deeply into the character and qualities of those who present themselves before “Oz, the great and powerful,” and, as it turns out, he’s able to bring out of the cowardly lion, the scarecrow and the tin man, the very characteristics they believed they were lacking. This may be a fictional story, but at the heart of the Christian faith is the story of Jesus of Nazareth who had the same power to see into the soul of those he encountered, helping them to become the people they had dreamed of being … and he still does!
August 12, 2018
In the 11th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the disciples of Jesus say to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Why do the disciples ask Jesus at this point in time? What’s been going on that causes them to finally make this request? Maybe it has something to do with connecting the circumstances of our life to a deep and transforming experience of God that helps us understand our lives in a context so much bigger than ourselves.
August 5, 2018
Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Over the history of the church, those words have been interpreted to mean various things:
June 24, 2018
This week’s Gospel reading finds Jesus and the disciples in a boat during a storm on the Sea of Galilee. The boat is in danger of being swamped by the wind and the waves, while we’re told Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat. The terrified disciples wake Jesus up, shouting at him, “Don’t you care? We’re perishing!”
June 17, 2018
On the first Pentecost Sunday, we’re told that thousands of people joined the church on that one day. Some people ask, “Where are the thousands joining the church today?” Here in Canada, when we see the church struggling to make inroads, it’s easy to forget that in many parts of the world, the church continues to thrive. This Sunday we ask the question, “Is it possible that the hopeful signs of growth in Christian faith throughout the world may inspire us in Rosedale to continue to dream and plan for what we can accomplish here?”
June 10, 2018
This week’s Gospel reading finds Jesus telling parables to those who are trying to understand the meaning and purpose of his ministry. To this gathered crowd, he explains that the Kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a shrub. This certainly seems like a peculiar way in which to describe the Kingdom of God. Would we not have expected something grander and more majestic than “a shrub” as a metaphor of the Kingdom? This Sunday, we look to understand the ways in which the parables of Jesus may help us to discover a deeper truth.
May 27, 2018
May 20, 2018
Some consider Pentecost to be the “birthday” of the church – the day when the Holy Spirit descends in wind and fire on the disciples of Jesus. God is now with us, encountering ordinary people, and in that encounter wonderful things may happen. One person who had such an experience was skeptic and journalist Sara Miles, who had what she called an “inconvenient” conversion to Christianity when she entered a church on impulse one Sunday. We’ll hear some of her story in this sermon, and how God used her life to make a difference in the world.
May 6, 2018
As we approach our upcoming provincial election, we are tempted to separate ourselves into competing tribes, which seem to be showing signs of increasing aggressiveness and belligerence. In the past, going into politics was considered to be an honourable profession, embarked upon by those with a desire to serve the country and its citizens. Now, with the increasing use of attack ads and outright hostility, the political climate seems to have become much more adversarial and dysfunctional. Does our Christian faith have anything to say about this? Is there an attitude or a pathway that may help us return to an era of civil discourse, trust and co-operation between those with different political viewpoints? This Sunday’s sermon may offer a way …
April 29, 2018
When the disciples Peter and John heal a “lame” man at the Temple in Jerusalem, they end up being arrested because they claimed to have healed him by the power of the risen Christ. The Temple authorities believed they were the ones God had put in charge of the religious world in the first century city of Jerusalem. What happens, not only then, but also now, when the old ways and traditions collide with the Spirit of God moving in new directions.
April 22, 2018
Many people in our world, and even in our church, find their lives difficult and challenging. They often feel overwhelmed by life. Sometimes the church adds to the problem by imposing feelings of guilt, inadequacy and shame by acting judgemental towards those who are struggling. This Sunday we explore how the church may move beyond this attitude as it encourages each person to grow and mature into the fullness of love and faith for which God has destined us.
April 8, 2018
In the Gospel of Mark, three women go to anoint the body of Jesus with spices on Easter Sunday morning only to discover the tomb is empty. In the last verse of the Gospel we’re told, when an angel speaks to them they become frightened ... “they fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them: and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” For some in the early church, this abrupt ending did not seem very satisfying. In most Bibles, there are two other potential endings which scholars believed were added to the Gospel in the second century to make the ending of Mark more like the other gospels. What did scholars add to the Gospel story to make it feel more complete, and what does it mean that these women fled the empty tomb in terror?
April 1, 2018 (Easter Sunday)
What must it have been like for those first disciples of Jesus after he was crucified? In the Gospel of Luke, we’re told the story of two of those despondent disciples leaving Jerusalem to walk to Emmaus in the afternoon of the first Easter Sunday Where was Emmaus and why were they going there? What happened to them along the road when the resurrected Christ joined them in their journey? Is there anything we can learn from their experience that helps us understand what it’s like to be a Christian in 2018.
March 25, 2018 (Palm Sunday)
Most of us traditionally know this first day of Holy Week as Palm Sunday, however in the church calendar it is called “Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.” We are invited to remember not only the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, but also his arrest and crucifixion. This Sunday we will explore how these two dissonant narratives came to be combined in one day, and how it may be possible that the parade, without the passion, leaves us with an incomplete understanding of the day.
March 18, 2018
For those of us who have practiced our Christian faith over the course of many years, we know that there are highs and lows in terms of our experience of the presence of God. We do not always live on the mountain top of spiritual experiences. Over 2,500 years ago, the Prophet Jeremiah spoke to the disheartened people of Israel when they found themselves to be a conquered and captive people. How did he speak to them of the presence of God, and what might that teach us about experiencing God in our own lives today?
March 11, 2018
At the heart of the Christian faith is the promise of eternal life. Many Christians find great hope in this assertion, but for many others, feelings of apprehension, fear and uncertainty over the prospect of their own inevitable demise still linger. Realistically, what should be our attitude towards death? How much do we fight death? How much should we fear death? Do we hang onto life no matter what, heeding the words of Dylan, “Do not go gentle into that good night?” Or is it possible to find a place of trust and hope, as we relax into God’s everlasting arms? This Sunday we will consider what it might mean to live faithfully and die well.”
March 4, 2018
Long ago in the land of Egypt, the enslaved Hebrew people toiled under the iron fist of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Despite their toil, the Hebrew people grew in numbers and in strength, and this made the Pharaoh anxious. He ordered that all Hebrew babies should be killed. At this time, a young woman bore a son by the name of Moses. In order to save him, she set him afloat in a basket in the Nile River, where he was discovered by the daughter of Pharaoh. She rescued him. This Sunday morning, we ask ourselves this question, “Why did she do that?”
February 25, 2018
Good Friday is coming up in just about a month’s time. In the minds of some, it seems strange to call the day when Jesus is crucified “Good” Friday. In this Sunday’s sermon, we’ll explore some alternative names for this day.
February 4, 2018
For this sermon, we will use as the central text the famous story from the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John – “The Woman Caught in Adultery.” Although, whenever I read this, I can’t help thinking, “If there was a woman caught in adultery, shouldn’t there also be a man caught in adultery?” However, we know from the #metoo movement that, throughout history, it has been predominantly women who have suffered and been punished for the indiscretions of men!
January 28, 2018
During the first century, the Apostle Paul established new churches in cities surrounding the Mediterranean Sea – Philippi, Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica and in the region of Galatia. However, the most difficult of these churches was established in the city of Corinth. The church. in this multi-cultural and multi-religious city, had trouble understanding the new ethos of the Christian lifestyle. Whenever they encountered a problem, which was quite often, they would appeal to the Apostle Paul to “referee” their fight! In this sermon, we consider the question of Christian lifestyle and those factors which may help us to discern what style of living is most consonant with the teachings of Christ.
January 14, 2018
This Sunday’s Old Testament reading talks about God’s call to the prophet Samuel when he is a young boy. Samuel doesn’t know that it’s God who’s calling him. He thinks it may simply be a human voice. How does any one of us know when God is calling us? How, given all the noise and competing voices in our world, do we recognize the voice of God? Is it God? Is it an idea in my own head? Or is that just the noisy twitter account on my smartphone? As Christians, how do we recognize and respond to the “still, small voice of God” speaking at the centre of our soul?
January 7, 2018
The journey of the Magi to find the newborn infant King, is only one of many heroic quests upon which people have embarked over the course of human history. One recent daring endeavour was that of reaching the moon in the 1960s. This desire to reach for that which is just beyond our grasp, seems built into the human soul. Our Christian faith affirms this quality and invites us into new adventures of the spirit. This Sunday, we’ll consider this aspect of human nature and how we may be able to continue to express it in the course of living out our Christian faith in our own particular circumstances.
December 31, 2017
The Gospel of John has a very different way of telling the Christmas Story. It does not speak of Mary and Joseph, or the infant Jesus lying in a manger. The writer of this book pushes our back up against the wall of eternity. The author speaks of the pre-existent Christ who has been with God since the very beginning, but comes to dwell with humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In doing so, God shows us something of the divine nature, and creates within the human soul an insatiable hunger to know and understand God.
December 24, 2017
It’s fun at Christmas to remember Jesus as a baby, but eventually Jesus grows up. Following in the footsteps of Christ is not simply about the cute, loveable baby in the manger, but about living up to the life and mission of a mature Christian faith.
December 17, 2017
As Presbyterians we are not great believers in “the saints.” However, through his association with his Anglican wife Judy, the Rev. Wes Denyer has come to embrace one “saintly” tradition – the observance of St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. This Sunday, we’ll learn more about the life of St. Nicholas and why his passion for generosity and children has made him one of the best known Christmas characters of all time.
December 10, 2017
In the Gospel of Matthew, we’re told that Joseph had to make a decision about what to do when he discovered that Mary was pregnant. Would he still marry her? Would he make plans to set her aside quietly? Would he denounce her to the religious authorities? In his culture, the most common thing would be to publicly proclaim her guilt. What does Joseph do? What is the right thing to do? Is it possible that question still confronts us in morally ambiguous situations today? How do we “do the right thing” when God, self and culture are at odds about what that right thing might be?
December 3, 2017
In this sermon given on the first Sunday in Advent, the Reverend Wes Denyer asks, "Is it possible that the innkeeper in the story of the birth of Jesus has ended up with a bad reputation that he doesn’t deserve? Was it his fault that there was no room at the Inn? Did God forget to make a reservation for Mary and Joseph at the local Holiday Inn ... or is there a deeper and more profound reason why Jesus was born, not in the comfort of a hotel room, but out back in the stable instead?"
November 26, 2017
All of us struggle from time to time with the meaning of the terrible things that happen to us in life – the hurts, the accidents, the injuries, the losses, the pain inflicted upon us by others, and simple bad luck. How do these events impact our perspective on life? What effect do they have on how we judge our fellow human beings? Do we come at the world from a position of trust ... or suspicion? Do we see God’s hand at work in the circumstances of our life ... or not? In this sermon, these are the questions we will consider.
November 19, 2017
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. In fact, Jesus talked a great deal about how people of faith should relate to their material wealth. This Sunday we’ll consider how to understand a Christian’s relationship to his or her material possessions. How do we find the balance?
November 12, 2017
In the life of Jesus, and in our experience of God, we most often experience compassion, understanding and forgiveness, not the imposition of God’s authoritarian power harshly inflicted upon humanity. Maybe we have something to learn from that example.
October 29, 2017
Back in 1978 and 1979, Wes was a police officer with the Peel Regional Police force. When he left that position someone commented to him, “Well, I guess you're just shifting from enforcing one set of laws to a different set of laws." Is that what the Christian faith is all about? Is that the function of the church in our society? Did God send Jesus to live among us in order to establish the church as the interpreter and enforcer of divine law, threatening the violators of God’s law with hellfire and damnation for their transgressions? On the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and in the light of Martin Luther’s life and theology, we’ll be considering these questions.
October 15, 2017
This sermon was given by Lt. Seaton Brachmayer who was "preaching for the Call" at Rosedale Presbyterian Church for the position of Assistant Minister. Seaton is a recent graduate of the Master of Divinity program at Knox College. His ministry focus is on pastoral care, preaching and discipleship. Born in South Africa, he lived in Malawi until he was nine years old, when his family moved to Canada, settling in Oshawa. He is fiercely proud to be a Canadian. Seaton grew up worshiping in different denominations including Baptist, Pentecostal and missionary housechurches. Seaton is a registered social worker and a lieutenant in the Canadian Army, where he serves as a chaplain candidate.
October 8, 2017
In a story we find in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus heals ten lepers while travelling in the “no man’s” land between Samaria and Galilee. That’s where the lepers are – excluded and ostracized. Jesus walks right into that “no man’s” land and heals the lepers. To Jesus, we are all beloved children of God. This story invites us to consider some questions:
October 1, 2017
In 2008, then President Barack Obama, introduced many of us to a painting by G. F. Watts entitled “Hope.” It’s the image of a woman sitting upon a globe, blindfolded, with an instrument in her arms that appears to have lost all of its strings ... but one. In this sermon, we consider how that picture, along with our faith, may be able to give us hope in 2017.
September 17, 2017
The Gospel of Luke tells a story about Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha in the village of Bethany. Even before Jesus arrives, the level of tension in the household may have been on the rise, but when he gets there, the tensions erupt into a full blown fight. Why did that happen, and is it possible we experience some of those same tensions today?
September 10, 2017
The church and the world seems more than ever to be a place of division, polarization and angry rhetoric. Instead of coming together to face the challenges encountered by our faith communities and our planet, people have separated themselves out into warring factions that often sabotage good will and frustrate effective action. In this Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus has some suggestions about how we might come together to realize God’s vision for us all.
September 3, 2017
Writer and theologian Tom Long says, "A life that is spent soothing the pain of the sick, caring for children in need, hammering nails in houses for those without shelter, sharing bread with the hungry, visiting those in prison, and denying oneself, may seem like a squandered life in the economy of a self-centered age, but in the storehouse of heaven, it is a lavish treasure." In this sermon we'll consider that comment in the light of the disciple Peter receiving the authority from Jesus to hold "the keys to the Kingdom," and how all of this intersects with "the good life" in 2017.
August 27, 2017
In this sermon, we consider the well known story of Moses being set afloat in the Nile River by his mother to save him from Pharaoh's decree that all Hebrew boy babies were to be killed. The story tells us of two girls, Moses' older sister and Pharaoh's daughter, who do not do what their parents tell them to do. Instead of doing what they're told to do, they do what is right! Their example might have something to teach us in our 21st century world about doing the "right thing" as opposed to continuing along with the way things have always been.
August 13, 2017
Sometimes as we move along through the journey of life, we find ourselves at moments which feel like a dead end – we’re not sure how we arrived there … and we’re not sure where to go from there. This can be our experience, and it was certainly the way Joseph (of the “coat of many colours”) must have felt when his brothers abducted him and threw him into a pit. But is it possible, that sometimes, the only way to arrive at the place God intends for us to be is by going through the pit?
June 4, 2017
The day of Pentecost is considered by many to be the birthday of the church. On this day, in the life of the early church, the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples of Jesus. The Apostle Peter preaches a deep and profound sermon about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and thousands of people come to believe that the risen Christ is the Son of God. What was that early church like? What activities and beliefs did they hold to be of central importance? In this sermon, we consider how churches of today may be similar to that first century church.
May 28, 2017
More than 60 years ago, Theodore Seuss Geisel wrote a children’s book called “On Beyond Zebra.” In this book, one of the characters proclaims, “It’s high time you were shown, that you really don’t know all there is to be known!” In this week’s Old Testament reading, Abraham and Sarah discover God is calling them on beyond, to learn and explore new places and new ways of living. Perhaps for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we will discover that God is forever and always calling us on beyond!
May 21, 2017
Throughout its history, there have been church leaders who have tried to use coercive tactics in order to manipulate people into compliance with their views. Sane and reasonable discussion of diversity within the Christian faith has sometimes been hijacked by those who completely and exclusively identify their own cause with the mind and will of God. Instead, let’s think about how we can maintain the unity of the church, while still respecting the different opinions and points of view which exist within our faith communities.
May 14, 2017
As we welcome eight of our young people as they join the church by Profession of Faith, we are all reminded that God invites us to know life in the spirit and wants us to experience a newness of life that challenges the way of the world. In this sermon, we remember how God desires that we live in freedom, letting our definition of success be born out of the imagination of God..
APRIL 30, 2017
This Sunday marks the beginning of our Legacy Giving Programme at Rosedale Presbyterian Church. Four thousand years ago, Abraham trusted in the promise of God for the future. As we stand at the beginning of this new millennium, the question to us is this: “Do we trust in the promise of God for the future of our church?” Our congregation has been in existence for over one hundred years as a beacon of faith, hope and love in the community of Rosedale. What can we do to ensure that it will continue to be here for future generations? That’s what we consider in this sermon, and that’s what we plan for as we introduce our new Legacy Giving Programme.
APRIL 16, 2017
The classical definition of comedy refers to a drama, whose central motif is the triumph over adversity, leading to a successful conclusion. So given that literary sense of the word … Easter is a comedy! However, since the earliest days of the Church, Easter has been understood as more than a comedy ... Easter has also been regarded as a joke … a supreme joke. The best joke in all the universe. For us, two thousand years later, it's not as easy to get the joke because we know the ending. There's no surprise. So this Sunday, in an effort to recover the surprise of Easter, we will travel two thousand years back in time to try and understand its impact for today.
APRIL 9, 2017
APRIL 2, 2017
In the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John, we read the story of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus, his good friend, from the dead. It’s a powerful story, reassuring us that God has power over both life and death. But could this story have a meaning that is more than literal? In our world today, many people seem to have lost their way in life. They’ve been hurt or disappointed. They’re tired, lonely or afraid. The courage and optimism of youth, and promise of life in the spirit, have been abandoned. Perhaps they have crawled broken and beaten into the grave of their hopes and dreams, the stone rolled over top of them – cut off from the land of the living. Maybe this Sunday’s Gospel story of resurrection has a message for them too.
MARCH 26, 2017
This sermon which looks at the long continuous story about a man born blind that we find in the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John. On a superficial level, the story is about a blind man to whom Jesus gives back his sight. On a deeper theological level, it’s about people who can see what’s really going on in our world, as opposed to those who are blind to injustice, oppression and a moral order that makes victims out of those who are already suffering and on the bottom rungs of society. The question at the heart of this Sunday’s Gospel reading is this, “What happens to us when God opens our eyes and we begin to really see?”
MARCH 19, 2017
As we proceed on our journey through Lent, we begin to glimpse, at the end of the road, the crucifixion of Christ. As we draw closer to Good Friday, we are forced to come face to face with the suffering of Jesus. How do we come into the presence of suffering? How do we react? What may give us strength in the face of our own suffering and the suffering of others? How do we make sense of it? These are the questions we explore and consider in this sermon.
MARCH 12, 2017
Is there something in your past you’d like to change – a better decision you could have made? And if you had, in what way would things be different now? This week’s Scripture reading is the story of Nicodemus who asks Jesus, “How can a person be born anew?” Is it possible to rise above our past circumstances into the light of new possibilities where the fullness of our human and spiritual potential may be reached? This is the question we consider in this sermon.
MARCH 5, 2017
Fresh from the waters of baptism, Jesus moves out into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan. Although there were three separate temptations, they all represent an opportunity for Jesus to obtain worldly power over humanity – by bribery, by force and by magic. Jesus turns down all three of these ways in which he might control people, leaving us with a choice – to freely worship God or to turn our backs on the spiritual dimension of life. Is this freedom to choose a welcome opportunity or is it the gift nobody wants?
FEBRUARY 12, 2017
In this sermon, we consider how we are valued as human beings by God and how we may honour and recognize the unique humanity in each other. How do we decide what value to place on the life of another person? The teachings of Christ remind us that the value of a person’s life is rarely based on the qualifications or characteristics so often prized in our culture. God has created each one of us in the image of God’s divine likeness … we are God’s masterpiece!
FEBRUARY 5, 2017
JANUARY 29, 2017
The world and the church have become extremely polarized, with the two ends of the spectrum utterly opposed to the understanding and agenda of the other side. The church is often represented on television and radio as fundamentalist, judgemental and opposed to reason and science. Because of this, many people see the church as irrelevant, or worse yet, they see religion as the problem. Is there a middle ground for us to take, and what does that middle ground look like? This Sunday, and continuing on Sunday, February 5th, we will begin exploring some of these issues.
JANUARY 22, 2017
In a Pulpit Exchange with St. Andrew’s United Church on Bloor Street celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we welcomed the Reverend Neil Young to lead in worship here at Rosedale. His sermon explores what it means to be a disciple.
JANUARY 15, 2017
This is the first of a mini-series in which the Reverend Wes Denyer explores our relationship to scripture. The Bible is not a book written by a single author, but a collection of narratives, hymn lyrics, poetry, prophecies and letters written down over a period of several hundred years. People often find the Bible challenging and confusing to read, sometimes with different passages seemingly contradicting one another. In this series we will consider some of the ways in which the Bible comes to us in its present form, how we understand it, and, perhaps most significantly, how we might make it a living part of our faith today.
JANUARY 8, 2017
When the Magi went in search of the baby Jesus, they discovered that they needed help along the way. They sought that help through an audience with King Herod the Great – what might he be able to tell them about the birth of a newborn king? Although Herod pretended a sincere interest, he harboured a murderous intent. This left the Magi caught between the fear of Herod and the joy of the birth of the Christ child. However, being caught between fear and joy is not just a 2000 year old experience, but one which many of us have encountered in modern life as well.
DECEMBER 18, 2016
How do we capture the feelings of Christmas in a Worship Service on the Sunday before Christmas? What kind of feelings should we be experiencing? Is feeling "warm and sentimental" good enough, or do we let in other feelings - the kind that are tainted with the world's difficulties and tragedies? Do we come into the sanctuary hoping Christmas will allow us to escape the trouble in the world ... or do we come into the sanctuary hoping the message of Christmas is the key to resolving the troubles in the world? We'll consider some of those big questions in this sermon.
DECEMBER 4, 2016
In the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph is surprised to discover that Mary is expecting a child ... and he's not the father! However, in a dream, Joseph is reassured by God and told that Mary will give birth to a boy and that he should name the child Jesus. And so, Jesus grew up as the son of Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth, but also in the lineage of King David - an important detail describing the Messiah in Old Testament prophecy. Jesus grew up as part of a family, with a loving father and mother, and with brothers and sisters. And it is from those rather ordinary roots that Jesus grew up to be "the light of the world."
NOVEMBER 27, 2016
The traditional topic of conversation for the first Sunday in Advent is not shepherds, wise men and the baby Jesus, but a focus on the future, and the hope for the return of Christ. Sometimes this topic is used to scare and threaten people - stories of earthquakes, violence and war dominate the discussion, complete with speculation about the soon to arrive "end times." A better way to approach this discussion may be to consider how we prepare ourselves for the return of Christ, whenever that day may come. In other words, how do we live today, in ways that will prepare us for God's coming Kingdom of joy, love and peace?
NOVEMBER 20, 2016
Does the universe make any sense? Does it have any purpose? Do we matter? Is there any way to know who we are and why we're here? These are questions we ask ourselves in the 21st century, but they are also questions that were asked by Christians in the first century city of Colossae in Asia Minor ... and the Apostle Paul gives them an answer.
NOVEMBER 13, 2016
When the angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce that she was to bear the Son of God, the angel called her "the favoured one." The favour of God does not mean you are God's favourite, it means God is doing you a favour in ways that change human life in unexpected and mysterious ways. Although we may prefer to live in the world of the "ordinary," God is still breaking through that thin veneer to intervene in our lives today.
NOVEMBER 6, 2016
The prophet Isaiah looks forward to a day when "we shall beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning-hooks." This Sunday, we consider a story from the biography of Field Marshall Montgomery, and a story from the life of the Reverend Major David Rowlands, formerly minister of York Memorial Presbyterian Church in the west end of Toronto, and how these two stories shed some light on the hope spoken of in scripture - a day when "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."
OCTOBER 30, 2016
In this sermon, the Rev. Wes Denyer ties together two stories in the Gospel of Luke and contrasts the different responses of two men who encounter Jesus: The Rich Ruler (18:18-30) and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (19:1-10.) The stories serve as a reminder that ... what is impossible for people, is possible with God. Moreover, they might very well prompt us to ask, "Have we have allowed something in our life to stand between us and God?"
OCTOBER 23, 2016
In the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14, we find the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector praying in the Temple. This parable introduces us to the problem of righteousness, and then gives us two people, each of which presents a solution to the problem. One of those solutions works ... and the other one doesn't. In this sermon, we find out why.
OCTOBER 9, 2016
All too often the practice of prayer is seen as an opportunity to bring to God's attention our personal shopping list of requests, wishes and needs. What if we were able to see prayer in a new light - not as a way to manipulate the divine will or to make God do something for us, but simply as the opportunity to say thank you for the divine abundance we already enjoy? Is it possible that our society is so fixated on "having more," that we have lost the ability to live joyfully in the present moment? Are we all too often imagining some future time and place when life will be better, and missing out on the simple abundance of God provided for us each day? This Thanksgiving Sunday, let's consider how we may experience every moment of our lives as meaningful, simply because God is in it!
SEPTEMBER 25, 2016
This Sunday's Gospel reading tells us that when some infants and children wanted to come close to Jesus, the disciples tried to make them go away. Their idea of the Kingdom of God involved serious work and planning, and these children were simply in the way. However, Jesus saw these children as valuable and treasured members of God's Kingdom. This is more of Jesus' "topsy-turvy" version of the Kingdom - where the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and anyone who thinks they're on the top of the heap is in for a big surprise! As Wes shares the story of an early morning encounter with a one year old baby and his mother, we may learn something more about what makes us valuable in the eyes of God.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2016
This Sunday is the 15th anniversary of 9/11, and we remember the shock and grief experienced by so many people that day. However, the experience of grief is not confined to horrific terrorist attacks. We have all experienced grief in the loss of a loved one, and we may even find ourselves wondering,"Where is God?" in the midst of our sadness and loss. The writer of the 77th Psalm, in the midst of sorrow, wrote poetry expressing pain and anger, despair and hope. He wrote of the need for the presence of God in the midst of grief. This sermon explores how the words of Psalm 77 may still have much to teach us today.
AUGUST 31, 2016
A night out for dinner in Lyon, France, a delayed airline flight, the story of an Old Testament prophet protected by an army of angels, and Jesus healing two blind men in the city of Jericho - what does all that have to do with living the Christian life in 2016? Actually, quite a lot!
AUGUST 14, 2016
The Old Testament story of David going up against the Philistine giant Goliath seems like the story of a contest which is surely moving towards an unhappy ending...yet David is the one who wins the conflict! He wins by thinking creatively "outside the box." In doing so, he accomplishes that which seems impossible. Let's think about what can we learn from this story which will help us realize, in our own lives, the promise of the words of Jesus: "With God, all things are possible."
AUGUST 7, 2016
In discussing John 11: 1-44 in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Rev. Wes Denyer discusses the difference between belief and trust and how, when it comes to the matter of commitment to Christianity, many of us are inclined to have more faith in one than the other.
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