Sermon by Rev. Dr. John James – St. Andrews United Church, Niagara Falls

Rev. Dr. John James officiated in our service this morning’s service, celebrating 100 years of the sanctuary of Haliburton United Church, Haliburton, Ontario. A former minister of this congregation he talked about the past, the present and the future of Christ’s church.

Blending old and new we celebrated with many friends of Haliburton United. Our church building was full.

As we entered the parking lot, the bagpipes filled the air. Our church had a welcoming awning with festive balloons.

Welcome to Haliburton United’s 100th Celebration

With dignitaries, former members and friends, we relived our past. The choir, expanded with members from Zion United, treated us to two beautiful songs – “Let the Church Arise: and “How Great Thou Art”.

We sat close to the front – in order to get seats!

A full Church

Then John James spoke to us about how we are to deal with what is to come.

The scripture read came from Philippians 3:7-16 but focused on these words:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. … I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV).

Here are a few points I took away:

Yes we have a past – Methodist, and Presbyterian. Haliburton United was also joined by some members of Tory Hill United Church when it closed in 1988 and our bell tower was donated from that church at that time.

We have changed in our way of getting to church – from horse and buggy to the car. We communicate by email and have the Internet. We have guitars, electronic sound and projection screen.

We have weathered many storms and accomplishments from a manse fire in 1972, to a major renovation in 2006.

But God’s people are tough – we “press on” as Paul says to continue Christ’s Church here on earth as He told us to do.

Why do people need a church? Some people say, “I hate organized religion” – but the alternative, un-organized religion, lacks challenges, accountability, mutual encouragement and uniting others in His Name.

Remember Church was Jesus’ idea. He told us to “build My Church” and that the Church is the Body of Christ.

We need each other – Church is life-giving. Carol Dixon, with Rev. Harry Morgan and Susan MacDonald sang, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother.”

Challenge: Are you content where you are with God? Do you think God has done all He can do here? Are you going to reach out or not? Let’s work together to build Christ’s Church.

And of course, a celebration wouldn’t have been complete without food and fellowship. To make it more special Marjorie Peel, who will celebrate her 101st birthday this year was in attendance.



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