December 6, 2021
This week we have a number of key scripture readings. It is one of those weeks where it is hard to just concentrate on one of them. In Luke’s gospel we have the entrance of John the Baptist who is the hinge to the salvation story. We also hear an Old Testament reading from the book of Malachi which is the end of the old story. In effect we hear Luke saying: “God told you the Messiah would come. You've had enough indications that the news would be announced when it was time. So, why should you now be surprised with this news?”
Luke lays out the world situation and all the players, those with political and religious power. Then to make things abundantly clear he refers back to the Prophet Isaiah. He wasn’t telling them anything new. Here is the link to the past and the connection to the future.
John the Baptist was simply the courier, the welcomer, the preparer, the reminder, whose message was, and still is, designed to get the people’s attention. His message, the King of Kings is coming! Get yourselves ready.
November 30, 2021
Our text this week from the gospel of Luke comes with some troubling words from Jesus. It seems that they are prophetic words about predicting the future and warning of the end times. However, if we only look at this passage thinking that it gives us a means to read the tea leaves and predict the future, then we have missed the point entirely.
It seems that this passage we will hear, has a lot more to do with how we live our lives right now. When we resolve to love our neighbour and seek common good for all. This kind of life has a profound meaning, discernible for the person living it and to the community at large. This is the life of the disciple. Do this and your lives will bear witness that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of love, a kingdom of joy, a kingdom of peace and a kingdom of hope as seen right here and now.
November 23, 2021
Today’s reading from John’s gospel is at its heart the story of two men: one, Pilate a son of Rome; the other, Jesus, the Son of God. The first seeks the truth; the second witnesses to it. Pilate uses the power and authority received from his emperor to impose the rule of an oppressive kingdom on the children of Abraham. Jesus uses the authority received from his heavenly Father to work for the salvation of these children from their earthly bonds.
Jesus seeks to bring about a new, greater kingdom, one built on a heavenly foundation. In this brief passage from John, the journeys of these two sons – one that began at the heart of the Roman Empire, the other beginning in a small working class village in Galilee – intersect in the heart of Jerusalem. Jesus, who only recently was swept along by cheering, adoring crowds from Jericho to Jerusalem in advance of the Passover Feast, now finds himself at the mercy of a jeering, contemptuous crowd anxious to turn him over to the authorities. A man beloved and proclaimed by many as the Messiah just days before now finds himself very much alone.
November 16, 2021
This week’s readings describe answers to prayer as well as future hope and challenges. In many ways we will find them challenging because they are distant from our lived experiences. Yet, when we look more deeply, there is a message that emerges. This message is that despite life’s difficulties and threats, God seems to make a way where there seems to be no way.
The reading we hear from Mark’s gospel certainly addresses this idea of facing challenges. We are told that the earth will be in chaos. Wars will abound and fear will be great. Yet, it seems that this upheaval is just the prelude to a new creation. “Don’t be afraid,” so says Mark. “God will be at work in the future to bring new life.”
So perhaps this is a story about spiritual growth. We may feel unsettled; our world may turn upside down as a result of some new
insight. It might just be that God is working for good, but we have to go
through the process and trust that God will bring something beautiful out of the crises we experience.
November 9, 2021
On this Remembrance Day Sunday what do we have to offer back for those who sacrificed so much? Where does prayer, or communion or singing fit into desperate conflicts where two sides are reaching for weapons? We have our stories to offer. Stories that reveal a different vision of how things could be, are meant to be. Our story today comes from Mark’s gospel about a woman observed by Jesus.
This is the story about a widow and her two small copper coins. What is sacrifice really for her? What is the enemy for this poor widow? Jesus is aware of the decision makers in his day who work against God’s dream of a world of dignity for all. Jesus’
allies that are working for this dream, this vision, are unlikely people. The woman we read about today takes two coins and puts them both into the treasury.She then leaves the temple knowing that she has done what she felt called to do and that she has done the best she could.
November 4, 2021
The readings for this week are an important reminder that God brings people into our lives, inspiring our imaginations and luring us toward unexpected life changing encounters. Our dependence on God inspires us to be generous and open knowing that God will supply what we need.
In the reading from Ruth we meet Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. Two resident woman who cling together against life’s bad breaks. Two people much like us who point the way toward faith. The story is human and mundane, a tale of everyday people and yet they get caught up in God’s great purposes.
The passage from the gospel of Mark allows us to explore how we relate to others. Jesus is telling us directly: Love is the total reason for our being… the sole purpose for all creation and our unique place in it. Love defines us. It must be who we are and what we do. If not, we’re just taking up space and wasting time.
October 26, 2021
What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What mission would
you attempt or what venture would you risk? All great
questions, because they get us thinking, stretch our vision
and stir our imagination. But as great as they are, maybe
they are not the right questions to ask because we know
there will be failure. There just will.
In light of those questions we turn to our reading this
morning from Mark’s gospel. The question here to ask is,
what would you be willing to try if the attempt itself was
worth it regardless of whether or not we succeeded. This
seems to be a big part of what the reading is about. Would
you, like Bartimaeus in today’s reading shout out for healing
even though the people around you try to shush you into
silence? Could it be that Bartimaeus was so used to failure and disappointment that he saw
no reason not to at least try one more time?
Or perhaps faithfulness itself is defined by trusting God enough to dare impossible deeds?
October 20, 2021
In a sermon delivered many years ago by Martin Luther
King Jr. he quoted Jesus’ words from the gospel of Mark
about servanthood. Then he said, “Everybody can be great,
because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a
college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your
subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to
know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. . . . You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
When Jesus’ disciples quarrelled about who would get the places of honour in heaven, he told them: “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43- 45).
October 10, 2021
The reading this week comes from the gospel of Mathew. Here Jesus urges the disciples and all of us to look around. Jesus points to the vastness of God’s gifts and pushes us to remember that God will take care of it all, so don’t worry, be grateful. Nothing is worth worrying about, for it is all in God’s hands and God will give us what we need.
So perhaps we need only step outside and gaze at the sky, the still green grass, the now emptying trees, to be reminded of the gift Jesus offers now in pointing to God’s tender care for all that is