August 1, 2010

Colossians 3:1-11 Luke 12:13-21 Yesterday I was conducting a funeral for the mother of one of our church members. I didn’t know Eileen personally, but after listening to her family’s stories and recollections, this is one of the things that I said in my sermon: “I am told that Eileen never had a lot of money in her life, but I get the impression that her life was very, very rich.” You see, she was the kind of person who, when she had some money, spread it around. And when she needed money, she didn’t hesitate to ask her family for help. As I reflected on Eileen’s life, the rich man from Jesus’ story came to mind. Not that the two were alike. They were nearly opposites! But I thought about the richness of Eileen’s life (a richness that had nothing to do with possessions or wealth) and I wondered about how much the rich man must have missed out on in life. Yes, he seems to have acquired a lot of stuff and he’s stored it up in big barns, but there’s no mention of him having a family, or any friends, or belonging to a community. I kind of wonder who he was going to “eat, drink, and be merry” with… just his own self and all his stuff?! It doesn’t sound like much of a party to me. The simple message of today’s Gospel is the warning not to let our lives become like that of the … Read more »

August 15, 2010

Isaiah 5:1-7 Hebrews 11:29-12:2 Luke 12:49-56 When I was 15 years old, I stood up at the front of the Presbyterian church that I had attended with my family for nearly ten years. I stood up with a couple of other young people to publicly profess my faith in God for the first time, and to declare my intention to live my life as a follower of Jesus. It was an especially memorable moment for me because I was also baptized on that day. As the water was poured, the baptismal words were spoken, and the choir sang the Aaronic blessing over me, I experienced an overwhelming sense of belonging. I belonged to a community. I belonged to a church family. I belonged to the God who had made me and loved me. I don’t really remember what we talked about in the membership class at the church as we prepared to make our professions of faith. Probably it was much of the same material that we cover today in our classes… God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Bible, discipleship, worship, prayer, service, mission, stewardship, and all of that. We likely discussed many or most of those things, but one thing that I’m pretty sure we didn’t talk about was the idea that what I was deciding to do with my life was going to be challenging. I don’t remember thinking about NOT going through with it. I don’t remember feeling nervous or scared, or even apprehensive about … Read more »

August 4, 2013

Hosea 11:1-11 Colossians 3:1-11 Luke 12:12-21 “A Roar of Warning” The Bible is full of great metaphors. Last Sunday we had the metaphor of God as a faithful, loving, and forgiving husband to God’s people who are like an unfaithful spouse. But this week, as we continue with another passage from the prophet Hosea, the metaphor changes. God is now a parent – an adoptive parent – and God’s People Israel, is the child. As we listen, God is recalling God’s relationship with this beloved child: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son… I taught him to walk, and took them up in my arms… I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” God sounds just like any parent reminiscing about the wonderful moments of child-rearing. Like so many parents, God remembers being present with God’s children, helping them along the way, rejoicing in their successes, comforting them in trouble, and working so hard to make sure that they have everything they need. But God’s reminiscences come out of an experience of despair and anguish because the child that God loved and nurtured has now turned away. Like a teenager who has run away, or a young adult who has cut herself off from continuing relationship with her parents, Israel has turned away from God, and God … 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 »