July 1, 2018 | Our Scripture passages this week are a reminder that God can use even the slightest thread of hope to do more than we can imagine. In our first reading from 2 Samuel, David despairs over the loss of a friend and the defeat of a nation and then rises to become the greatest of kings. In our Gospel passage from Mark, we see how words of simple faith –or perhaps desperation– transform lives. Our faith does not need to be refined, eloquent or shaped in the traditional wording of the creeds to be noticed. We can be rich or poor, have everything or nothing, be distinguished or destitute, still God hears every sigh, every deep and heartfelt longing as prayer, even if it comes only because we have nowhere else to turn.
June 24, 2018 | In the storms we face in life, God is with us. Facing what seems like impossible odds, we receive divine guidance and energy to make it through. By trusting God we can do greater things than we could ever imagine. The impossible becomes possible.
We hear two stories this week. The first is the story of David and Goliath. What child doesn’t love this story!? This is the story with inspiration for the “Rocky” and “David” within all of us. The underdog gets defeated, the weak defeat the strong. But the deeper message is that when we put our trust in God, we can respond with courage and strength to the forces that threaten to defeat us.
Then we hear in Mark’s gospel how Jesus stills the storms of life as well as the storms of nature. The disciples panic when a sudden windstorm rocks their boat, filling it with water. In their fear they call upon Jesus, whose calm voice stills the storm. Their fear toward the storm changes because they come to realize that even in difficult situations God is with us.
June 17, 2018 | This week we hear a parable from Mark’s gospel that describes the surprising growth of God’s kingdom. It is described as the smallest of seeds that can become great, such as a large plant giving shelter to the birds. The broadcast of seeds, falling everywhere, is the precursor to a abundant harvest. A reminder that small things are beautiful and that God can do great things from small seeds.
Today’s readings inspire us to see God’s energy and insight present in unexpected places and that includes ourselves and our congregation. We look beyond the obvious to discover God moving in unlikely persons and situations. In all things God works for good and though seeds often appear to be unimportant, a great harvest and wonderful possibilities are on the horizon for those who see with eyes of faith and bring forth great things from small beginnings.
June 10, 2018 | The readings this Sunday have a thing or two to say about family. Who do we consider to be family? Who do we turn to when we need help? In ancient times family had a different meaning than it does today. Many of us see our families consisting of ourselves, parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, special aunts and uncles or cousins. In biblical times families consisted of many, many people that also included great aunts and uncles, all first cousins and second cousins were all considered a central part of the family. Family get togethers could almost be seen as an encampment as there were so many people gathered together in one place.
In this week's Gospel reading Jesus looks around him, he takes in everyone seated and says, “Right here right in front of you - my mother and my brothers.” This idea of family greatly impacted the beginning of the church because it was inclusive of all people. All are part of God’s family.
June 3, 2018 | What does it mean to be called or to have a calling? How do we discern the voice of God? What am I called to, what are we called to? We think about these sorts of questions this week as we hear the story of the call of Samuel. This is a beautiful little story, of how hard it is to know when God is calling.
Samuel is said to be about the age of 12 years when he becomes the assistant of the priest Eli. In the middle of the night, Samuel hears his name, “Samuel, Samuel” and goes running into Eli’s room, assuming, of course, that Eli was calling. But he is met with Eli mumbling, “Go back to bed! You’re dreaming!” Samuel settles into sleep and again the same thing happens. Well, as the saying goes, the third time’s a charm, Eli realizes what we as the readers/listeners know all along, that this is God calling!
What a wonderful story of how God was made manifest in an old man’s and a young boy’s life, that “Ah Ha!” moment when they finally get what was going on!
May 27, 2018 | This is Trinity Sunday… a day to celebrate the greatest mystery of all… a day to ponder the dynamics of one God in three divine persons. John’s gospel’s explanation of The Trinity grows out of a conversation Jesus is having with Nicodemus, a righteous scholar, totally committed to a life governed by Mosaic Law. He respects Jesus, but he is puzzled by him. Seriously now, how can we be born again?
But as Jesus explains to a skeptical Nicodemus, our rebirth is not the product of our mother’s labour. It is not a birth into this restricted, earthly life. It is a birth in the Spirit into everlasting life. It is a direct gift from God… a rebirth in water and the Spirit… As such, we are not only “born again” … we are “born from above.”
May 20, 2017 | Bewildered or puzzled and astonished are the words we hear this week from our reading from Acts 2. These were the responses of those who witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and why not? This was an extraordinary event after all!
Luke presents the story with winds raging; flame-like tongues, scores of them; an international, mixture of languages, some familiar and others belonging to an all-but-forgotten past— befuddlement and wonder may well be the anticipated responses to such phenomena as these. The question on everyone’s minds…“What does this mean?”
This week we celebrate Pentecost, the third great festival of the Christian year. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church and so much more. Scripture tells us that 3000 people believed on that first day. It was the beginning of a movement, a new way, calling us to be open to God's Spirit moving in our lives.
May 13, 2018 | We live in a world filled with dangers everyday. We see the pictures on the internet and the daily news. Some of us have experienced first hand the dangers of life. The many different operating systems that have become accepted as normal including social, cultural, political and economic structures.
In our reading this week from John’s Gospel Jesus knows that the human ordering of life is often contrary and even opposed to God’s ordering of life. That concern is the subject of his prayer in our reading. It is the evening of the last supper. Feet have been washed. Supper has ended. The darkness has descended.
Jesus does not run from the dangers of the world. Instead he offers love and that his joy may be made complete in us. This happens when we live, act and work with God in answering his prayer. We are actively participating in Jesus’ prayer by shaping our lives to be like his.
May 6, 2018 | Much of our lives are characterized by the experience of waiting and transition. It might be waiting for the bus, for an appointment, for a visitor or for a holiday. Most of these waiting experiences are likely to be fulfilled in this life, we hope. But it is also true that the whole of life for every one of us is one long period of waiting and transition.
This week we hear about the Ascension, one of the major events in the history of Jesus, an event that is situated during a period of transition and waiting for disciples of Jesus. It occurs 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and 10 days before Pentecost.
What were the disciples doing during this waiting time? I am sure normal life went on – eating, sleeping, meeting each other and maybe going to work. During out times of transition we too carry on with normal life as far as we can. But other things were also happening and these all related to the person of Jesus. And it was far from being a passive or unproductive time.
April 29, 2018 | Our reading this week from the gospel of John is an image of a vine and its branches. This is an image to challenge that early community and ours today, to claim our close relationship with Jesus. In Jesus' time people would have been familiar with the vine metaphor because it is one that appears several times in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe Israel. But even if contemporary Christians have never tended a vineyard most of us have seen a grapevine at one time or another. Looking closely we see the many entwined branches winding their way around one another in intricate patterns of tight curls that make it impossible to tell where one branch starts or another one ends. This is not just intricate; it's intimate, and the vine shares with its branches the nutrients that sustain it, the life force of the whole plant. This vine is one with the branches.
Our value is in being a part of the vine that is the body of Christ. Be honest. We all long for a sense of belonging, a place. To be a part of the church becomes the place where we can be rooted, where we can feel a part. Joined together by our shared love for him, challenged together to bear fruit for that love in the world, we are connected together in and through him.