June 17, 2018

1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:14 Mark 4:26-34 “Sleeping While the Kingdom Comes” Last Sunday afternoon I had a three-hour nap. I haven’t done anything like that in a long time, but I guess I needed it. A few hours later, I went back to bed and slept right through the night, so I guess there was no harm done in sleeping away the afternoon. Perhaps it was my need for catching up on sleep, or my mood of slowing down for the summer, but when I started to study the familiar gospel text for today, I noticed something that I had always missed in the past: The gardener goes to sleep. Okay. Let me step back a bit. Jesus is describing what the Kingdom of God is like. He does this quite a bit in his teaching… trying to explain to his friends and followers what it will be like when God’s Reign has taken hold of all people and the whole of creation. And he doesn’t just describe what the Kingdom of God will be like, but how it will come to be. You see, like us, Jesus’ earliest disciples were probably pretty worried about the state of the world – about the violence, oppression, corruption, and poverty they saw all around them. They were pretty sure that Jesus was going to be a part of setting things right, but when everything didn’t turn around quickly, they had their doubts about whether he would be successful. So Jesus told … Read more »

June 24, 2018

Psalm 133 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 Mark 4:35-41 “O Look and Wonder!” (With Psalm 133 sung refrain #2 from the PCC Book of Psalms, melody by Pablo Sosa.) O look and wonder how good it is! O look and wonder how good it is! How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like water poured out over the head of an infant, cleansing her from sin, welcoming her into the family of God, gifting her with the Holy Spirit. O look and wonder how good it is! O look and wonder how good it is! How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like a couple preparing for marriage, gathering their friends, making their vows of faithfulness and love, receiving God’s blessing on their life together. O look and wonder how good it is! O look and wonder how good it is! How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like our church family coming together Sunday by Sunday, learning to walk in the way of God, caring for each other in Christian community, reaching out in mission and service, knowing that we are “in the boat” together with Jesus. O look and wonder how good it is! O look and wonder how good it is! How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like people in communities across the country celebrating Indigenous … Read more »

July 1, 2018

2 Corinthians 8:7-15 Mark 5:21-43 “Canada: Blessed to Bless” When I began to reflect on the Scripture readings for today, the first thing that caught my attention was in the passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It was the part about finishing up what we start, completing our work. I immediately thought about my unfinished doctoral degree. As you may know, I started working on a Doctor of Ministry degree several years ago. It’s one of those degrees designed for people in full-time ministry, so you take courses and do the work while continuing in your congregational role, and reflecting on your ministry as you do your research and writing. And it’s a fair amount of work. I finished the coursework and the comprehensive paper, and started working on my thesis proposal while I was still in Saskatoon. Then, last September I decided to take a 1 year leave from the program. I wanted to concentrate on getting settled into this new ministry in Regina, and I was allowed to pause for a year without penalty. But the year has sped by, and soon it will be time to pick up that work again, and try to get it completed. Here’s what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began… not only to do something but even to desire to do something – now finish it according to your means.” Of course, I have a certain … Read more »

July 8, 2018

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 Mark 6:6b-13 “Casting Out Demons?” In an earlier draft of this morning’s sermon, I started off with an exploration of the major characters in this morning’s biblical texts. I wrote about David, who started out small and became a great king. I wrote about Paul, who was an amazing apostle, but had his own embarrassing past of persecuting Christians. And even once those two became the wonderful leaders that they were, they still had weaknesses. David let his passion get the better of him, took advantage of his royal position and power, and needed to be corrected by the prophet Samuel. And although we don’t know much about Paul’s difficulties, we know that he had some. He tells us that he struggled with a kind of “thorn in his flesh” that kept him from perfection so that he had to rely on God’s grace instead of just his own natural ability to be a successful minister of the gospel. These guys are great examples for us, especially when our struggles are with perfectionism or our ego needs. When we get anxious about doing everything right, doing everything ourselves, and get worked up over the possibility of making a mistake or forgetting something important. And I admit that those are the kinds of things that I struggle with. I like to be prepared. I like to do well at my ministry, and be well-regarded by others. Of course, I know that perfection is not … Read more »