September 29, 2013

“Take Hold of Eternal Life” 1 Timothy 6:6-19 Psalm 91 Luke 16:19-31 Not long ago, I read about a period in Christian history in which many people were waiting until very late in life before they were baptized. Whereas many Churches today baptize infants and young children, and others ask people to wait until they are young adults and ready to make a conscious choice in accepting the lifetime commitment to following Jesus, there was a time around the 3rd – 4th centuries, following the period of Christian persecution, when many Christians would not be baptized until the end of their life – sometimes even receiving the Sacrament on their death beds. One of the rationales for delaying baptism was the fear that after baptism they might sin again. Though they had been washed spiritually clean by their baptism, they weren’t sure what would happen if they made a serious mistake afterwards. Would God forgive them again? They weren’t sure, and so the baptism needed to be just before death so that they would be pure and holy at the end of their lives, and ready to be welcomed into heaven. Another reason for putting off baptism until old age may have been that living the Christian life seemed onerous and stifling. Putting off baptism meant that people could live how they wanted – enjoying all the pleasures they desired – then repent and be baptized later, thus securing their comfort and joy in the afterlife as well. The rich … Read more »

November 1, 2015

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Psalm 24 Luke 12:16-21 “Free From the Money Trap” We are going off the lectionary this month – setting aside the Scripture readings assigned for these last few weeks of the liturgical year so that we can talk about money. I’ve occasionally heard people say that they don’t go to church very often, but every time they do go the preacher seems to be talking about money, asking for money, appealing for support for one thing or another. Although it’s unfortunate that some people have been turned off of church because of a sense that the church is always asking them to give more money, I would also suggest that they may have missed the even bigger “ask” on those Sundays. The church (well, Jesus, actually) is asking us to give our whole selves, our whole lives, including every choice and decision about money, for God’s purposes. We do have an offering every Sunday, and add to that at times an appeal for a particular mission or ministry or extra thing. And we are invited on a regular basis to serve God through our monetary giving as well as our time and talent. But our offerings are just the beginning – a sign of our commitment and our willingness to give our lives for the love of God and our neighbours. I heard recently about state churches in some European countries and a system in which church members are automatically signed up, when they join a church, … Read more »

April 2, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Proverbs 11:24-25 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Luke 19:1-10 Listen to this Sermon “Extravagant Generosity” This week we are finishing up our series on “Five practices of fruitful congregations,” and “Extravagant Generosity” is the final practice. If I could have avoided preaching another sermon about stewardship, I probably would have. But it’s one of the themes I committed to preaching through this series. And also, I think that Robert Schnase is right – that fruitful congregations do practice extravagant generosity. Now, when I think of extravagant generosity, I think of more than just money offerings. Gifts of money are needed to maintain a building, pay staff, purchase resources, support missions, and contribute to the wider ministry of the denomination. But generosity of time, skill, and spirit are also needed to work in the ministries of the church, to spend time in praying for the church and the world, and to engage with our children, youth, and adults (both inside and outside the congregation) to share our faith and spread the good news about God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Just think of the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. There were two generous men in that story… Certainly Zacchaeus was generous as he committed to giving away his money and possessions, but Jesus was generous first, as he offered to spend time with this outcast, possibly corrupt man, coming over to the house of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, for dinner. So, when I think about the … Read more »