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Join us for worship on Sundays at 10:00



Sunday, April 2 – 10:00 AM         Palm Sunday

                                11:00 AM             M&S Cinnamon Bun Fundraiser

Thursday, April 6 – 7:30 PM        Maundy Thursday Contemplative Worship with Rev. Nancy Finlayson

Friday, April 7 – 11:00 AM             Good Friday Worship Service

Sunday, April 9 – 10:00                 Easter Worship with the Winnipeg Church of the Deaf



  • Please join us after the service in the Van Roon Community Hall for HeBrews Café, refreshments and fellowship after worship.




  • Michael has published a book of his letters titled A Pastoral Pandemic: Remaining Connected During a Time of Disconnection. Books can be bought at the church or by contacting Michael directly at The cost is $20.




Dear Friends

Welcome to worship for Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.

I have told many stories about my one and only trip to the Holy Land. It took place in February 2019 as a continuing education experience supported by the church but also served as a unique opportunity to visit our daughter Leah who was living in Bethlehem, Palestine at the time on a study practicum through the University of Winnipeg and a peace agency called the Holy Land Trust. I was never one who felt like a visit to Israel and Palestine was on my bucket list. But as a Christian and a student of the Bible I was fascinated by so many things I experienced.

One story I am thinking about as Holy Week begins was on the day Leah and I went up to the Temple Mount. As you are likely familiar, Jerusalem is a city set on a hill (several of them actually). When David made Jerusalem his capital after 1000 BC he resisted the temptation to build a Temple. However, David’s son Solomon did build a Temple in the heart of Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. This was the resting place of the ark of the covenant (yes, the ark of Raiders fame) and the innermost court of the Temple was said to be the place where God dwelt when on earth. Solomon’s Temple was destroyed, with much of Jerusalem, by the Babylonians in the 7th century BCE. A makeshift temple served when the Babylonian exiles returned two generations later, but it wasn’t until the reign of Herod the Great (~37 BCE – 4 CE) that the Temple was rebuilt to its former glory and greater size.

Though Herod was a tyrannical man, he was an ambitious builder. The top of a mountain is, of course, curved. Herod wanted a large courtyard to surround the Temple and so he ordered a retaining wall of stone to be built so that a large flat surface could surround the Temple he would build on top.

That immense courtyard is today called the Temple Mount. All that remains of the original retaining wall is the west side, the so-called wailing wall, or western wall, which is considered the holiest site in Judaism. During the life of Jesus, the Temple and the Temple Mount were complete and served as the heart of 1st century Judaism. That temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and has never been rebuilt.

With the advent of Islam in the 7th century and the growth of the Muslim Empire Jerusalem became a place of spiritual significance for the world’s three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Its history is complicated and often violent but it must be said that Jerusalem would not be what it is today were it not for the Ottoman Empire who controlled it for nearly 500 years until the collapse of the empire at the end of World War 1. The Ottomans brought a degree of peace and development (and even toleration of the other religions) to Jerusalem. It was under the Ottomans that what we se today as the walls of the ‘old city’ were built, the walls of the city in biblical times being much smaller and in ruins. And, it was because of this extended Ottoman rule that the Temple Mount became a place of Muslim worship. When you see the golden Dome of the Rock in pictures of Jerusalem, you are looking at a mosque that covers the peak of Mount Moriah. To its immediate south is the enormous Al-Aqsa Mosque where Muslims have worshipped for a thousand years.

When the Ottomans had to give up Jerusalem after World War 1 the Temple Mount remained in Muslim control, a situation that did not change even after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Today visitors and Christians can enter the Temple Mount but Jews may not. Needless, to say a profoundly sad situation for an abundance of reasons, and a source of much tension.

All of this is background to the story of the day Leah and I presented our Canadian passports and crossed a bridge and entered the Temple Mount literally on the top of the Western Wall. We looked around in astonishment and admired all we saw. Being who we are we began to take pictures. And given an opportunity that will never exist again I asked another tourist to take a picture of Leah and myself with the golden Dome of the Rock just behind us. We put our arms around each other and the picture was taken. And that’s when the fuss began.

A man came running over to us yelling as he was. I was confused and uncertain about his concern though it was obvious he was  heading for me. I put myself in between him and Leah and tried to calm him. His English was poor but I was soon able to discern what he was saying. We had committed a grievous mistake. We were a male and a female and we had put our arms around each other on Holy Ground. This was an offence to God and to Muslims. As a respectful visitor, I pleaded ignorance and apologized repeatedly. The situation eased and we went our separate ways.

But I beg to differ.

What is holiness? Is it a category of land or place or time or people that are set aside by God for particular reverence? Is it an attitude, a superstition, or a custom created by human beings? Is it just all things religious as though God’s love and grace are only triggered into action as a response to human devotion?

Don’t get me wrong. I love sacred space, the art and architecture inspired by faith-filled reflection. I enjoy sacred writing, sacred song, sacramental rites. I’m not a religious guy who doesn’t like religion.

But holiness is too often characterized as an excuse to stand in judgement. I am quite comfortable believing that God is pleased by the affection of a father and daughter, or mother and son, or sister and brother, or a same sex couple, or two friends, or two strangers if they wish for that matter, be they standing in front of a church, synagogue, mosque, mountain, sacred site, or on prairie land. Holiness should simply reflect the goodness and grace, the love and the mercy, of the only One who is truly Holy.

So we enter Holy Week. Not made so by our observance but by the opportunity to embrace once more the story that teaches us the true meaning of holiness, the story that sets us free, that love that overcomes death.


Grace and peace,






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Mennonite Central Committee: MCC Earthquake Relief.

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The United Church Response link: UCC Earthquake Relief