January 20, 2008

Isaiah 49:1-7 Psalm 40:1-11 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 John 1:29-42 I’ve always tended to think of myself as a “middle of the road” Canadian Presbyterian. I’m pretty comfortable in a church that includes a variety of perspectives on social issues, biblical interpretation, and theology. We don’t need to agree on absolutely everything, but we can find unity in some core convictions and work together towards some common goals. And I’m pretty comfortable as a Presbyterian within the larger church community. I value our Reformed tradition with its distinctives and strengths, but I don’t need to convince Anglicans or Roman Catholics to become Presbyterians. I don’t think the Pentecostals would be better off if they joined our church, and I don’t go around saying the Presbyterians who went into Church Union 83 years ago would be much better off if they had stuck with us. In fact, when I’ve taken part in interfaith events, (like the prayers for peace that we shared a few weeks ago on New Year’s Eve down at St. Paul’s Cathedral), I’ve been aware of the fact that we have a great deal in common with other people of faith… whether they are Jewish, or Muslim, or Sikh, or Buddhist, or something else. But as I was working through some ideas for this morning’s sermon, I shared a few of them with my husband, and he said, “You really are an evangelical, aren’t you?” In mainline Christian churches, “evangelical” has sometimes been used almost as a bad word. … Read more »

February 27, 2011

Isaiah 49:8-16a Psalm 131 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Matthew 6:24-34 This morning’s Gospel text came from a portion of what is known as Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” We might imagine Jesus… sitting on the top of a hill with a crowd of listeners gathered around as he delivered the greatest sermon of all time. That’s what it looks like in the movies of Jesus’ life and ministry. But what we actually have in Matthew’s Gospel is a beautiful compilation of sayings and teachings from Jesus. Chances are that he didn’t put them all together into one sermon, but the editor of the Gospel did that in order to tell the story. But I imagine that Jesus’ words in the “Sermon on the Mount” are probably the things that Jesus said over and over throughout his ministry. They’re the words of wisdom that he shared with his disciples along the road. They’re the teachings that he focussed on whenever a crowd was gathered to listen to him. They’re Jesus’ “twelve keys” to being a faithful follower of God. That’s why these sayings got remembered, and passed on, and written down, and compiled into one beautiful, wonderful sermon from Jesus. And while much of the “Sermon on the Mount” was probably preached and taught in public – to the crowds of people that gathered so often to learn from the great Teacher, I imagine that today’s sayings were especially for Jesus’ inner circle of followers. It’s not that “don’t worry” and “strive … Read more »

January 19, 2014

Isaiah 49:1-7 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 John 1:29-42 “United for Mission” The theme that stands out most strongly in this morning’s scripture readings is evangelism – the missionary call to tell others the good news of God in Jesus Christ. From the Gospel of John, we heard about John the Baptist spreading the news about Jesus, and different people hearing, turning to follow, and becoming disciples. “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” said John, pointing to Jesus. And they did. They looked. They listened. And they followed Jesus with their lives. From Isaiah we heard an articulation of the mission of God’s People, Israel, a mission that Christians, as God’s people also share: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” In other words, our purpose is not to get focused on ourselves, on caring for, teaching, and directing those in our own group about following God. Certainly, that is important. But we can’t get stuck there. Isaiah says, “it’s too light a thing,” it’s not enough. Most Christians would agree they feel an obligation to spread the good news about their faith in Jesus to others. Articulating what the good news is and knowing how to best tell others about it in their context is the challenge many of us … Read more »