June 23, 2019
In the Bible, God’s chosen ones often had to climb to meet God: Abraham climbed a mountain to sacrifice his son and an angel spoke to him and intervened. Later in Genesis, Jacob dreamed “that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” Jesus makes this passage refer to himself, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” But while still on earth, Jesus had to climb, for “when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him;” and later, after he had dismissed the 5,000 he had fed with bread and fish, “he went up the mountain by himself to pray.”
Important things happen after a short climb! Jesus led Peter, James and John “up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white,” and Moses and Elijah were there with him! Climbing these new steps gets us closer to God; they are a “Stairway to Heaven!”
Isaiah says to “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall be made level” and the entrance to the church shall be solid concrete. Isaiah’s plans for our Front Steps Project!
Paul picks up on our project plans, and says to the Corinthians that “if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” It was the love, generosity and dedication of this congregation that made our Stairway to Heaven possible. There were 107 donors in total and 14 of those donors contributed $1000 or more in fundraising led by Terry Gabel that made this project financially possible. James, the brother of Jesus who led the early church in Jerusalem writes that “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father.”
And we used our gifts wisely through the dedicated efforts of our project team led by Terry Owen, including Frank Roberts, Ken Pebesma, Bill Danbrook and Steve Rhodes. Together, they turned the project concept into this wonderful reality. And then to complete the project, Judy Dykes and Terry Owen nestled the stairs in beautiful gardens!
We now honour and celebrate, all of those who have helped to make this Stairway to Heaven possible and we dedicate these front steps to becoming closer to God, one step at a time, with each step providing a strong foundation for the next, leading us up to our holy place of worship and to relationship. And what goes up, also comes down. We share the love and generosity nurtured within the walls of St. Bart’s with the world around us.
In the living hope and eternal love that ascends and descends on this Stairway to Heaven, let’s join together in prayer. Let us pray:
Gracious God, we gather with grateful hearts to celebrate the completion of our new front steps and to honour the many people who have contributed to make this project a success. May each footstep upon these steps bring us all a step closer together in your love. And may we, and these front steps, be so welcoming that many will join us in your call to service and be blessed each step they take on our Stairway to Heaven! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Bill Danbrook, our Chair of Trustees, will now cut the ribbon and we’ll formally dedicate to the glory of God, the many gifts that have made our Stairway to Heaven possible!
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
Prelude– A Medley of Hymn Tunes
Anthem – No anthem this week
Offertory– Wonderful Love- Traditional
Postlude– Teddy Bear’s Picnic – Traditional