September Sermon Series: All In

The gospel doesn’t cost anything but it demands everything. Following Jesus is a life that calls us to go “all in” a whole-hearted devotion and allegiance.

Jesus is king over all and demands a full-life devotion. In our FOMO world, however, we’re afraid that if we go all in that we might miss out on what this life has to offer. Of course, the only thing we’ll miss out on is everything God has to offer.

This 3-part series will explore the theological foundations of our ministry vision at Knox, calling people to a renewed commitment to whole-hearted participation in the life and ministry of the church.

An Update on the 5pm Community

As the 5pm community launched into summer, a team was formed to discern a new vision and direction for our evening service. Over the summer, that team has met regularly to pray and listen to where it is God might be leading our evening service.

This past Sunday, we announced what we heard - that we will be a community focused on meeting the needs of our neighbours. Our neighbourhood is young, it’s urban, it’s full of rootless people without family in the city, community, or clear direction - who have been told the value of climbing a ladder, the importance of school, the value of a dollar but who are yearning for deep relationship and rootedness in love. We will be a community where people find themselves rooted and established in love, and moved in action to be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

To do this well, we’re changing the start time of our evening service to 4:30pm. 4:30 means we always finish by 6. Less hunger in the middle of the sermon, less being late for your dinner plans, and more opportunity to form deep and rich community over meals you’ll invite each other to at nearby restaurants or each other’s homes.

Not only does the service start at 4:30, but we invite everybody to come before 4:30 - come early to church, talk with people before the service, and find in our sanctuary space to quiet yourself from all the busyness of the world around us and prepare to encounter the living God.

Launch into summer for the 5pm Community

Important update for the 5pm Community

After consulting with the 5pm Community, as we seek to renew our vision for the 5pm Worship Service, we will be entering into a summer mode of worship, which will include: 

  • Worshiping with the 11am (starting June 30 and concluding August 25) 

  • Meeting twice as a 5pm community: Sunday, July 14 and August 18 at 5:00pm

During the summer months, a launch team of 5pm Community members, led by Pastor Nick Renaud, will be gathered. The mandate of the team is to pray and plan for a renewed 5pm Worship Service and Community that is growing, invitational and sustainable. 

Please pray for this team and the process of discernment and planning: that God would guide and direct us into an exciting way forward. 

Important summer dates 

  • June 23 - launch into the summer season of the 5pm Community, worship at 5pm

  • June 30 - begin worship together with the 11am 

  • July 14 - 5pm Worship Service 

  • August 18 - 5pm Worship Service 

  • September 1 - launch of our renewed 5pm Worship Service 

  • September 8 - Welcome Back BBQ at 11am and 5pm 

Longing for more than a Raptors championship?

A red, black and purple tide of euphoria uncorked Thursday night, with a roar of joy and passion not usually seen on the streets of the Six — Toronto has come alive like never before. After so many years of losing, cellar dwelling and season ending disappointment, a deep yearning finally has been gloriously fulfilled. City streets crammed with boisterously exuberant (but orderly — nicely done, Toronto) celebrations; car horns honking not out of the usual traffic irritation but in revelry; people gathered together in pubs and viewing parties, decked out in a sea of jerseys, t-shirts, and caps, all proclaiming a “we the North” belonging; strangers — old and young, from every colour and ethnicity — smiling, singing, jumping with joy, hugging and high-fiving one another like they were family. The Toronto Raptors have captured the attention of the world and electrified this city.

As a pastor watching it all, I couldn’t help but ask, “What’s going on here God?” Apparently, it’s not a foul to see more at play in this beautiful celebration. Have you noticed the language people are using to describe the Raptors playoff run and victory? It is nothing short of religious. The Raptor faithful believed - this was a season of hope and faith, this playoff run about redemption. People felt like they were a part of something bigger, experiencing emotions like ecstasy or nearing rapture, a transcendent joy (this is the language I’ve heard or seen in media). Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur noted that “everyone is welcome in the church of basketball,” probably because it’s almost felt like worship to many. Is secular Toronto going through a revival?

Perhaps I’m reading way too much into this moment. Isn’t this just a sad-sack-sports city finally tasting a moment of victory? Isn’t this simply the power of sport at play? For sure. Sports provides an amazing outlet to bring people together, a place where a kid can discover the wonders of what their body can do, driving the lane and pivoting for a lay-up. And it has offered our city and nation a drama, a unifying story of guts and glory to find ourselves in.

But I still wonder, isn’t there something beyond this drama we’ve gladly joined in, something Divine that the Raptors championship run is surfacing in us? Is this perfectly lovely, and long overdue, celebration pointing beyond itself to something more?

One theologian, John Calvin, observed that every human has a sensus divinitatus, a profound inner bent toward God. Woven deep into every human being, almost like an eternal homing beacon, there is an awareness of the divine, a sense for the sacred in life. Along this line of thinking, some of our deepest hopes and desires are revelatory, pointing us to more eternal yearnings that live within every person.

Which means, we humans want God even when we think we want the edge-of-your-seat awe of that four-bounce, series-winning Kawhi Leonard shot, or the beautiful swish of steady Freddie VanVleet draining three-pointer after three-pointer, or the thrilling hustle of Kyle Lowry setting the first-quarter tone for victory, or the vicarious and shared championship glory in countless viewing parties across the country.

Could it be that the hearts of Torontonians long for God when we thought we wanted a Raptors victory? Could it be that all the very spiritual and religious language currently used to describe this beautiful moment is expressing a deeper desire, an eternal yearning to be part of a bigger drama being played out in life? What if all the goodness we’re savouring as a city is a pointer to a greater goodness we were meant to know?

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor observes that ours is a secular age yet one haunted by God. Drained of transcendence, our disenchanted secularity leaves us with a thirst for wonder, beauty, mystery and the numinous; ours is a culture that hands us both a malaise of felt flatness along with a sneaking suspicion that we are missing out on something beyond this life we’ve constructed.

I can’t help but wonder if this moment of rapturous Raptor victory is like a crack in the secular veneer of our lives. We’ve been caught up in something more; we couldn’t help but surrender to a larger goodness and transcendence we were always meant to know yet compelled by our secularity to push aside and suppress.

The wonder and beauty of this celebration will fade but it points to what we were meant to always know. We were made to live with the hope and joy this city has been relishing in this Spring playoff run. Because our world is so polarized by politics, ethnicity, identity, we hardly can believe that we were meant to be united with others different than us, like we’ve seen in the shared community of nation-wide Jurassic Parks. Bad news is so much the default of daily life its hard to conceive that our hearts are designed to feel and know the glory and elation of victory that brings us to our feet, screaming with delight.

Something in this moment has stirred and moved us, broken through all of our distracted and busy lives, a distant gene memory of the way the Maker meant for life to be, the community, holy joy, shared glory, and drama of life before and with God.

Or maybe it's this simple reality: could there be a more compelling Canadian sign for the reality of God than all of Canada celebrating and cheering for Toronto?


Summer Learning Series meets Perspectives!

If you've been around in the last few weeks, you will have heard us talk a little bit about the Perspectives Course - that we are quite excited about. It's a 14 week course that you can register for for credit, the Missions Hub has been able to partner with a number of local churches to host it here, AND it begins next week! Wednesday, May 15 at 6pm, Knox Presbyterian Church (the exact room will depend on our numbers).

Well, Perspectives is now also our summer learning series opportunity! We are now very glad to announce that Knox congregants are welcome to attend the course, along side students taking it for credit - to enjoy the fellowship and great teaching about the missional character and history of our God.  

This Wednesday is the first evening and the topic is "The Living God is a Missionary God." See below for a list of upcoming lectures and plot your attendance now. And, if you do have an idea when you will attend, you can help out team out by emailing Khevna Dave from the Missions Hub to let her know you’re coming! / 416-921-8993 x.3225

RSVPing to Khevna is not mandatory to attend - it will just help us prepare the room for the right number of people.

We hope so much you’ll be able to join us in the coming weeks. We have some excellent speakers lined up and the content of Perspectives is always an inspiration and encouragement to our faith.

Perspectives + Summer Learning Series Details

Evening Schedule 

  • 6:00 Registration, worship, prayer, bring-your-own dinner 

  • 7:00 Welcome

  • 7:10 Teaching

  • 8:05 Snack

  • 8:15 Learning activity

  • 8:30 Teaching

  • 9:25 Closing prayer 

Teaching Schedule

MAY 15 - The Living God is a Missionary God
Rev. Nouhoum Coulibaly, Zion Alliance Church/Grace Between Nations

MAY 22 - The Story of His Glory
Logan Gates, Christ the King/RZIM

MAY 29 - Your Kingdom Come
Rev. Dr. Phil Reinders, Knox Church

JUN 5 - Mandate for the Nations
Rev. Benji Devadason, SIM/New Life Church

JUN 12 - Unleashing the Gospel
Rev. Charlie McCordic, TEAM/ Emmanuel/Heritage 

JUN 19 - Expansion of the Christian Movement 
Rev. Kyle Hackmann, Christ Church Toronto

JUN 26 - Eras of Mission History / Pioneers of the Christian Movement
Rev. Dr. Harold Minor, Pioneers

JUL 3 - The Task Remaining
*Long time friend of Knox

JUL 10 - How Shall They Hear?
Rev. Lisa Pak, Canadian Bible Society

JUL 17 - Christian Community Development
Dr. Rupen Das, Canadian Bible Society/Tyndale

JUL 24 - Break / Midterm for students

JUL 31 - Building Bridges of Love
*Secret Speaker

AUG 7 - Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches
Dr. Stephen Beck, GEM/Mosaikkirche

AUG 14 - Pioneer Church Planting
Jon Fuller, OMF International

AUG 21 - World Christian Partnership
Susanna Muntz, Wycliffe Bible Translators/Rexdale Alliance

*for security reasons, these speakers’ names cannot be published

Knox Presbyterian Church
630 Spadina Ave, Toronto / @knoxtoronto / 416-921-8993

Missions Hub
3rd Floor, Knox Presbyterian Church / @MissionsHubTO

Perspectives Canada

Lenten resource: Mental health in the body of Christ

During our Lenten sermon series, “Too much to bear alone,” we are engaging the troubles we face in life. We recognize that many of these troubles overlap with the realm of mental illness. Our hope is to name this reality wisely and well, to use our language carefully in the context of worship and discipleship. To that end, your pastors thought it helpful to sketch a few contours of a biblical theology of mental illness.

We believe:

  1. People who live with mental illness are made in and bear the image of God, fully belong to Christ’s family, the church, and are valuable members of the community in need of specific care.

  2. People who live with mental illness are known and loved by God, and nothing can take away this divinely created personhood or remove God’s image from them — not trauma, abuse or violence, not disabilities or dementia, not depression, psychosis or any disorder, not even suicide.

  3. People who live with mental illness are not people out there - they are family and friends, they are people we serve with and worship beside. They are us, the body of Christ.

  4. People who live with mental illness are not defined by their illness and bring unique strengths and experiences which enrich our community. So we celebrate the whole person and both stand with them in their suffering as well as learn from their resiliency.

  5. People who lived with mental illness are included in the story of faith provided for in scripture. We see biblical heroes like Moses, Elijah and Paul were so distressed that they considered suicide (Numbers 11:15, 1 Kings 19:4, Philippians 1:20-26). Jacob, Job and David all experienced what seems to describe depressive episodes (Genesis 37:35, Job 3:11 and Psalm 38:6). Jesus, too, expressed the full spectrum of anguished human emotion, including anger, distress and sorrow.

  6. People who live with mental illness experience disappointments, barriers, and fear as well as triumphs, resiliencies, and gratitude as they live with their illness.

  7. People who live with mental illness receive good gifts from God in care accessed via trusted individuals, mental health professionals, medication, and various treatment options.

  8. People who live with mental illness should not be made to feel isolated because of their experiences, or feel the need to keep their suffering to themselves. In worship and community life, it is healthy and necessary to name and lament our traumas, sorrows and losses without shameful whispering or painful silence, bringing all of what we experience into the presence of Jesus.

  9. People who live with mental illness, like many of us, can sometimes experience faith to be a source of strain and distress or find spiritual language confusing (e.g. wondering “why doesn’t God heal me?” or “Is anxiety a lack of faith?”). It is crucial to be nuanced in our language, choosing speech to show love, offer healing and to bless, while recognizing that spiritual practices can be a comfort, provide meaning, and be a source of coping for those living with mental illness.

  10. People who live with mental illness sometimes find it difficult to feel or experience God. We understand lament and complaint during difficult times as evidence of faith, not a lack of it. As a body of Christ, we can carry those living with a sense of God’s absence, holding hope for those who cannot hope within Christ-shaped friendships.

In The Inclusive Church, Jean Vanier and John Swinton write, “The greatest pain of people with mental illness is to be seen as different, to be stigmatized as ‘abnormal,’ pushed away into a horrible world of loneliness, isolation, anguish and pain; trapped in a space where no one desires to meet with them. The call of the church is a simple one: meet people where they are. . . . Meeting people in love destroys stigma and gives the person back their name.”

Our troubles are too much to bear alone. Praise God for the body of Christ where we are held together in Jesus.

— Pr. Phil Reinders