Worship with us on Sundays at 10:30 am.
In our household, we have a scripture reading as part of our morning routine. A couple of weeks ago a passage came up that I've been thinking about ever since. We were reading Acts 26:12-18, in which Paul tells his conversion story, one more time. This is the third time in Acts that we get the story. Perhaps because of that, I wasn't giving the reading quite the attention that it deserved. Until it took a surprising turn. Right in the middle of it, Paul tells us something this time that he hadn't mentioned before, which is so surprising and unexpected (having heard about the whole Damascus episode twice already), that we all started laughing. I'm not precisely sure why--and in fairness, I started giggling, and then I infected the rest of them.
It comes when Jesus says, "Why are you persecuting me?"--which we've heard before--and then, "It hurts you to kick against the goads." Well that's new. And as such, besides laughing, we got kind of fixated on it. When something catches us off guard in Scripture, then that's usually a good teaching moment.
First of all, we had no idea what this lovely little first-century colloquialism means.
It's an image, though not an especially flattering one. A goad was a sharpened switch, used to keep oxen heading in the right path. (Let's just note that Jesus is calling Paul an ox. So much for Jesus meek and mild.) But what would happen is that the oxen wouldn't want to go in the direction the driver wanted them to go, and they would kick back at the directing switch. And when they did, it would be more painful. Probably it wasn't really painful in the first place, just annoying; but when the animal kicked at it, sometimes it would pierce the skin. And so: it hurt to kick against the goad.
Again, this is not the most delicate image, but it got me thinking about a very real spiritual reality, which is that when we "kick" against where God wants us to go, where Jesus is leading and the Holy Spirit prompting, we invariably do ourselves more harm than good. I do not want to suggest that if things are going poorly right now, it's necessarily because of some spiritual rebellion. But I do know what it's like pushing back against what God wants me to do, what I hear in prayer and scripture that I ought to do, as a follower of Jesus. And I have yet to have the experience that I was right and God was wrong. I'm not holding my breath for that day...
I simply offer this as something for your reflection and prayer. It leads me to think about what's been called, "praying with open hands." In other words, praying open to what God wants for us (which is always and only our best), and not clinging to things that keep us in another path, or even separated from the fullness of God's love for us (which is immeasurably deep, high, wide and long [Ephesians 3]). It's a risky, but--in the end--always rewarding adventure to pray openly and honestly, asking God what you need to let go of, or what you need to take on, in order to really receive the fullness of life that Jesus came to bring (John 10:10).
In the hope, peace, joy and love of Christ,
Our congregational minister
Here's the Miller family, now established in Vancouver.
Here are some recent messages, worship videos and sermons from Aaron.
Video of the worship service -- Sunday, November 20
Sermon -- Sunday, November 20Video of the worship service -- Sunday, November 13
Sermon -- Sunday, November 13
Video of the worship service -- Sunday, November 6
Sermon -- Sunday, November 6
News from Aaron -- Thursday, November 4
Sermon -- Sunday, October 23 -- Luke 18:9-14
Message from Aaron -- Friday, October 21
Christian Seasons Calendar
Next year's calendar is in production. It features art from several well-known Christian artists, and will be available around the end of September. Please see the calendar website for details.
Salt of the Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar holds an unusual depiction of the seasons. We keep time from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany to Lent to Easter to the end of the Christian year.
The art is contributed by artists from Christians in the Visial Arts. This year they are from the United States and Great Britain. The CIVA artists have supported this ministry for many years, and we thank them for this new contribution.
The calendar is for sale at $15.95, with discounts for orders of 10 or more. The calendar makes a nice gift at Advent or Christmas. Please join us in celebration of this wonderful gift of God's presence among us!
United Church Campus Ministry at UBC
This ministry is a partnership between the congregation and BC Conference of the United Church of Canada. Our campus minister is Karen Hollis. Learn more at the Food and Faith Community, the United Church campus club, which meets over dinner every Monday at 5:30 pm for food and conversation about living the Christian faith.
Where we are
The Chapel of the Epiphany is located at 6030 Chancellor Boulevard on the campus of the Vancouver School of Theology at the University of British Columbia. Here are directions to the chapel.
Reach us by phone.
Aaron Miller is at 604-822-9374; Karen Hollis is at 604-827-4301 and Marjorie Morrison Ross, our church secretary, is at 604-822-0638.
The annual meeting of University Hill Congregation was held after worship on Sunday, May 15. Please have a look at our annual report.
If you would like a printed copy, please email the church office.
Please note that this report and meeting is concerned with the spiritual life of the congregation; our financial affairs are reviewed in October each year.
Videos of the Worship Service
Recent videos are available:
* Sunday, August 28 - Rev. Aaron Miller preaching.
FAQs - answers to frequently asked questions
Rites of Passage
We welcome inquiries about baptisms, marriages and funerals . . . more.
Art for the banners on these pages is from the artists of the Christian Seasons Calendar for 2016-2017.
Thanks toLori Anderson, Robyn Sand Anderson, Lalo Garcia, Linda Henke, Janet McKenzie, Fiona Moes Pel, Elaine Roemen, Cornelia Schmitter.