February 28, 2010

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Psalm 27 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 13:31-35 When I began to read and reflect on today’s scripture texts early in the week, the theme that sprang to mind for me was “heaven”. I read the line from Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “our citizenship is in heaven” and I remembered that twice in the last year, members of the congregation have specifically asked me to preach about heaven. I remember thinking at the time that I don’t know anything about heaven. What could I possibly say about heaven that would not be a product of my own imagination or someone’s wishful thinking about what the afterlife will be like? As much as I believe in life after death, and that God has something special prepared for us after our lives in this world are over, I don’t feel like I know anything concrete about heaven. And when I was asked, I couldn’t really imagine what I would say in a sermon on heaven. Of course, many of you have heard me mention heaven from this pulpit before… but most often, the context for my mentioning it has been within a funeral sermon. Whenever I preach for a funeral, I check to see if the person who died had selected scripture texts for the service, and I preach on those texts. And if not, I invite the family to select their favourite passages or texts from the bible that they would like to include in the service. Many of … Read more »

August 22, 2010

Hebrews 12:18-29 Luke 13:10-17 I have an image in my mind of a teenage boy. He’s wearing a black vest over a clean white shirt with a bow tie. But instead of the slacks that you might expect, he’s donning a red and white kilt with knee socks to match. Surrounded by girls his own age and younger, he’s dancing with all his might… head held high, arms in the proper position, eyes focussed as he concentrates on the steps of the dance. Though there were lots of interesting dances and presentations at Folkfest over the last few days, one of the people I will remember is boy in the middle of the Highland Dance group at the Scottish pavilion. To me, he just seemed to represent what Folkfest is all about… an unself-conscious celebration of cultural heritage, a determination to carry on the traditions of our cultures, and an opportunity to discover our identity by learning who we are and where we came from. If you spent any time of Folkfest this year, you can’t have missed what I saw everywhere… people of all ages dressed in their native costumes… beautiful fabrics, funny wigs, scarves and sashes everywhere! The official ambassadors were walking around proudly, or standing at the entrances to welcome the gathering crowds. They were all confident, proud, and excited to be representing their countries and cultures. They held their heads high… celebrating who they are and the groups to which they belong. The story from today’s … Read more »

February 24, 2013

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Psalm 27 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 13:31-35 “Take Courage!” What does it take to be a Christian? Some might say that Christians need to be loving and kind. Some might say that Christians need to be open and friendly. Some might say that Christians just need to have the faith to believe. But our scripture passages today suggest that the most important characteristic of a Christian is courage. When God is speaking to his people in the Bible, it’s not unusual for God’s introductory words to be “Be not afraid.” I suppose that standing face to face with God, or even just hearing God’s voice speaking to you directly was perhaps a rather scary experience. But I think that, more generally, God was often calling his people to do some rather risky and scary stuff. They had good reason to be feeling nervous or afraid. In the case of Abram, whom we read about this morning, God has led him away from his homeland and sent him on a journey towards a new place to found a new nation. God has promised him good land, and many descendants, and God’s own blessing. But at this point in the story, Abram is starting to get worried. He hasn’t even had a child yet, let alone a son to continue his family line. And why should Abram believe that the land that he had come to would be his? Others might come and try to take it from him. Without … Read more »

March 3, 2013

Isaiah 55:1-9 Luke 13:1-9 “Stop! Drink water.” There was a cartoon circulating on email a couple of weeks ago. The scene was the Vatican, and the speech bubble was of someone inside responding in surprise to Pope Benedict’s announcement of his resignation: “You’re giving up WHAT for Lent?” There is a tradition of Christians giving something up during Lent. We might give up some indulgence that we don’t really need. We might fast on a certain day of the week or forego eating meat, as a way of disciplining ourselves and turning our attention towards God. Others have changed up the tradition a little by talking about taking something on during Lent. They try to add something to their daily or weekly routine… making sure they come to worship every week, adding daily prayer to their schedule, spending some intentional time in service to the poor or the lonely or the sick. Around St. Andrew’s this year, we’ve had a few invitations to take something on during Lent. I handed copies of a devotional booklet that I called “A Time to Pray,” and offered a Wednesday evening bible study on the appropriately Lenten topic of forgiveness. The Stewardship Committee invited us all to gather our coins for a special offering to PWS&D, and they called us to pay attention to our stewardship of time during Lent with a survey and a time log, along with some thoughtful questions to help us evaluate our use of time and make some changes … Read more »