July 11, 2010

Amos 7:1-17 Psalm 82 Colossians 1:1-14 Luke 10:25-37 When I first looked at this morning’s scripture texts earlier this week, I was fairly sure that I would preach on the Gospel story about the Good Samaritan. It’s such a classic story of our faith, and it offers us a lot to reflect on. And so, as I went through the week, my thoughts were centered on the question of what it means to be a good neighbour. That theme was in my mind every day this week… every time the door bell rang here at the church, and there was someone in crisis standing in front of me and asking for help. I did my best to offer what I could. I listened, I prayed, I comforted and encouraged. I shared a few cups of coffee. I directed towards services in the community. And I handed out a fair amount of financial assistance from our Session Benevolence Fund. I felt, as I often do, a mixture of frustration and guilt that I could not do more, as well as a good feeling too, because I often felt that what I was able to offer (on behalf of the church) did seem to help, to support, and to strengthen some families and individuals who really were in trouble. I thought some more about what it means to be a good neighbour as I lay in bed the last few nights, listening to my young neighbours partying with their friends just a … Read more »

July 18, 2010

Amos 8:1-12 Colossians 1:15-28 Luke 10:38-42 This morning the prophet Amos, whom we heard from last Sunday as well, continues his rant against the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. Amos puts God’s judgment and anger into words for the people so that there can be no doubt about what they have done wrong and why God is getting fed up with them. Amos is addressing the people who trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land. He talks about how they sell grain to the poor, but they cheat them by using false scales. They are liars and cheats – trying to get rich at someone else’s expense. Be assured, Amos warns them, God is paying attention and God has a good memory. God is going to turn things upside down. Their feasts will be over, and they will be mourning instead. One of the things that I find most interesting about reading the prophets is the visions that they talk about. They get these strange images in their minds, and each one represents some kind of message from God. You probably remember the popular one from the prophet Ezekiel, when he saw a valley full of dry, dry bones. Then he saw the bones moving, putting themselves together into bodies, and flesh appearing on them. With the breath of God, the bodies came back to life. And through that vision – through that metaphor – Ezekiel’s readers … Read more »

October 31, 2010

Luke 10:25-37 Reflection #1: “Stories of Good Neighbours: Wilson, Mr. Rogers, and Snow Angels” At least one dictionary defines a neighbour as “a person who lives near or next to another.” Literally, that’s all a neighbour is… a person who lives close by… in the apartment above or below where you live… or in the house next door. I have good memories of the neighbours who lived next door to my family when I was growing up. They were an older couple, just a little younger than my own grandparents… Mr. and Mrs. Chandler. They would wave a say “hello” whenever we walked by their house. They would ask about what we were doing in school or where we were off to on such a beautiful day. When Mr. and Mrs. Chandler went down to Florida for a month each winter, one of us would get the job of checking in on their house… bringing in the mail, watering the plants, making sure that the furnace hadn’t shut off or anything like that. I don’t remember the Chandlers doing anything really special for us, but they were friendly and helpful. And sometimes in the summer when they were sitting out on the lawn in the backyard, one or two of us kids would go over and sit on the grass beside them and just talk about whatever. They were good neighbours. Just yesterday, after the funeral of one of our members, Betty Wilson, I listened to some women reminiscing about … Read more »

July 7, 2013

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 “Sent Out in Jesus’ Name” In the final year of my seminary training, I had to write an integration paper. The class was called “Church, Ministry, Sacraments, and Polity” and the final paper was a fairly long assignment in which I was supposed to try to integrate what I had been discovering and learning over the course of my time at Knox College. I don’t remember the mark I got on that paper; It was probably a reasonable grade. But soon I was sharing that paper with the Ministry Committee of the Presbytery of Ottawa – the group of ministers and elders who would examine my faith and my preparedness for ministry, and certify me for ordination within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. And although the experience was generally pretty positive, I still remember the one little critical comment that one of the ministers made about my paper. I remember it because it was such a very important point that I had missed. You see, I was writing about what it meant to be a Christian. I was writing about what it meant to be a member of the Church. I wrote about the variety of gifts shared by ministers and elders and members, and the diverse people that come together in communities of faith. But despite the fact that I was acknowledging that lay people must be involved in the work and ministry of the church (It’s not up to ministers alone to do the work … Read more »

July 14, 2013

Luke 10:25-37 “What was the Question, Again?” What was the question, again? By the time Jesus finished telling his story about the man who fell into the hands of robbers, his listeners might have been ready to ask, “Jesus, what was the question, again? Why did you tell us that story?” After all, the whole conversation had been prompted by a question. It was a lawyer who stood up to ask Jesus a question. Luke’s Gospel explains that the question was a test… maybe a test to see how well Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures… maybe a test to see if Jesus’ interpretation of the law would be orthodox or not. The lawyer wasn’t the kind of lawyer we think of today – a Real Estate lawyer, or a divorce lawyer, or a corporate lawyer. He would have been a religious lawyer – a scribe, an educated man who knew the Jewish Law and advised others on how to live righteously and according to God’s commandments. So the lawyer asked a question to test Jesus: “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” But instead of answering himself, Jesus turns the question back to the lawyer. “What is written in the law?” Jesus asks him, “What do you read there?” And without batting an eye, or pausing to look it up, the lawyer quotes, word for word, from the Book of Deuteronomy. Of course HE knows the correct answer… It’s the answer he was trying to test … Read more »

July 21, 2013

Luke 10:38-42 “Worried and Distracted by Many Things” Once in a while we have people over to our house for dinner, or maybe for a BBQ on the deck. I must say that it doesn’t happen very often because our lives are so busy that our house is likely to be in a state of chaos, and the thought of cleaning it all up in order to entertain visitors can be a bit daunting. But I do know some of the challenges of being a good host. Certainly, you want the food to be ready at about the right time… not the moment the guests arrive, but if dinner won’t be served for a while, some kind of appetizer and some drinks is a good idea in the meantime. And you want to have plenty of everything… You don’t want to run out of wine like they did at that wedding that Jesus’ attended in Cana, and you want your guests to feel free to take good-sized portions, or to come back for seconds of their favourite dishes. Good cooks don’t have too much trouble with that part. They know how much to make, and they know how to time everything so that the meal can be served in a timely, and not too rushed manner. But then there’s the challenge of actually being present with your guests to visit and get to know them. Have you ever been at a dinner party where the host spent the whole time … Read more »

July 3, 2016

Listen to this Sermon Luke 10:1-6, 16-20 Psalm 78:1-8 Ephesians 3:8-10, 16-21 “The Next Generations” This week it really started to feel like summer had arrived. The number of meetings in my schedule dropped drastically, and I easily found time to do a little more visiting during the week. I enjoyed several free evenings, fewer emails, and things were pretty quiet in the church office. But despite the seeming slow-down for summer, ministry and mission actually continued at an alarming pace. St. Andrew’s visitors were out in full force this week – visiting in all three hospitals and in homes and care homes too. Three prayer shawls will be gifted this week, along with prayers for healing and wholeness to people within and beyond our congregation. On Friday, a bunch of us went up to Camp Christopher. It was mostly Camp Committee members who joined the staff team up at camp for a BBQ lunch and a beautiful afternoon, culminating in the commissioning service. The new mattresses, for which our church raised the money, will arrive soon, and over the course of the summer the staff will welcome around 250 children and youth to participate in the Christian Camping program. My Facebook news feed was overflowing the last few days with posts by Canada Youth leadership getting ready for the big Presbyterian youth conference in Ontario. Some of them are already at Brock University getting things set up, and youth from our congregation and synod will leave tomorrow morning to … Read more »