October 11, 2009

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Mark 10:17-31 I have an image in my mind of an elderly man standing beside the grave of his 90 year old sister. Most of the other mourners have started to make their way back to their cars, perhaps to find shelter from the cold, Saskatchewan, winter wind. But this man seems stuck in his position beside his older sister. He is bent low, with his hand on the casket, and he’s praying and crying quietly. I can see that he is a man of faith. His lips are moving with the words of a prayer he has repeated many times, and every once in a while he makes the sign of the cross and straightens up, as if he is ready to leave. But then he bends again, as if he can’t bear to leave her there. Some younger family members come over to comfort him, and he quietly cries “why? why?” as the tears begin to stream down. He’s the last of his generation still living, and this loss seems too much for him. “It was her time,” “She’s at peace now,” he hears from those around him. But their words are too easy. Perhaps letting go of her means letting go of his childhood, of his history, of his memories of what once was good. Whatever this letting go means for this man, what is obvious to me, as I observe the scene at the graveside, is that letting go is … Read more »

October 14, 2012

Hebrews 4:12-16 Mark 10:17-31 The author of the Book of Hebrews understood the power of God’s Word and the challenge of the call to discipleship. She wrote: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before God no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” I wonder… when friends or colleagues ask you about your faith, when they ask you why you come to church, or why you read the bible, what do you say? Do you tell them that the Word of God is a comfort and encouragement to your soul? Do you tell them that coming to church lifts your spirits and helps you to know that you are loved? Do you tell them that reading the bible brings peace into your heart, especially when you read favourite passages like “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”? I wonder… have you ever described the Word of God as the author of Hebrews did? The bible is like a two-edged sword piercing my life, separating the bad from the good, the failure from the possibility, the lost opportunities from the mission and ministry in which I am called to participate today. Have you ever explained that the Word of God is like … Read more »

October 21, 2012

Mark 10:35-45 For the last several weeks, our Gospel readings on Sundays have been following through the Gospel of Mark – a series of scripture texts about what it means to be a disciple or a follower of Jesus. Each text has had a unique theme or focus, but the common message proclaimed over and over by the author of the Gospel is that being a disciple is challenging. There are forms of spirituality and perhaps even some religions that promise only peace and fulfilment, success and happiness, but Christianity is not one of them. And in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus does not sugar-coat the commitment and sacrifice required of those who would follow him and his way with their lives. My guess is that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were a couple of pretty great disciples. They were among the very first ones that Jesus called, just after Simon Peter and Andrew. James and John were fishermen too, and Jesus found them in their boat mending the nets: “Immediately he called them;” the Gospel tells us, “and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” The brothers travelled with Jesus and the others from that time on. They listened to his teaching and struggled to understand his parables. They witnessed his miracles and wondered at his ability to bless and to heal the people they met. And then, as time went on they went out in his name to … Read more »

October 28, 2012

Mark 10:46-52 The section of Mark’s Gospel that we have been reading from the last couple of months begins and ends with a story about Jesus healing a blind man. In today’s story from chapter 10, the man called Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus in the street. And when Jesus calls Bartimaeus to come to him, the blind man throws off his cloak, springs to his feet, and rushes to Jesus to receive an immediate and miraculous healing. The earlier story from chapter 8 is similar, but with a few differences. It’s only a few verses, so I’ll read it for us: “Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’ And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” The Gospels are full of stories of healing… blind people receiving their sight, paralyzed people picking up their mats and walking, deaf people who are suddenly able to hear again, and little children being raised from near death or maybe even death itself. Mark’s Gospel has two stories about a … Read more »

October 4, 2015

Mark 10:2-16 “Love, Not Law” It should not come as a surprise that Christian churches and other religious institutions are concerned about moral issues. From the traditional issue of couples living together before marriage, to the latest problem of genetic engineering, to the recurring issue of the justification of war, to same-sex marriage, to issues around end-of-life care, churches invest a lot of resources into research, study, debate, and the production of rules, standards, and positions on various issues to help people navigate the confusing world of modern ambiguity. Although it is tempting to believe that if we could just go back in time (at least as far as the 1950’s) that many of these issues would simply disappear, I don’t believe that there has ever been a time in human history when we have been free from these debates or from the moral dilemmas that create them. The issue of divorce, we might agree, is not currently at the top of our church’s list of complicated moral issues and debates. And yet, over the years, divorce has been a grave concern    that Christian churches were quite worried about. And, it continues to be an issue that the Christian traditions have chosen to deal with differently. At one end of the spectrum, there are denominations in which remarried persons are not allowed to receive communion, and at the other end there are traditions in which divorce is being normalised by the creation of “divorce ceremonies” in which couples acknowledge … Read more »

October 25, 2015

Mark 10:46-52 “What do you want me to do for you?” The story of blind Bartimaeus is a classic gospel story. The son of Timaeus is a blind beggar who sits by the roadside, just as blind and otherwise-handicapped people would usually do in the first century. At the side of the road, Bartimaeus would do what he was able to do in order to earn a living. He would beg. And passersby with a few coins or a bit of food to spare would toss them his way… until Jesus came along and changed everything! Actually, it wasn’t really Jesus that changed everything for Bartimaeus. All Jesus did was pass by fairly close to where Bart was begging. But Bartimaeus had heard about this Jesus, and he decided to cry out to Jesus for help. That was an amazingly brave thing that Bartimaeus did… crying out to Jesus for help. It was brave because it opened him up to a lot of flack from the other people in the crowd. It was brave because he risked being ignored or rejected. And it was brave because, if perchance, this Jesus could actually help him to regain his sight, his life would be suddenly and radically changed. For the better, we might assume, but it would also mean he would need to get a job and earn a living in some way other than begging. It wasn’t going to be easy, by any means. As modern readers of the Gospel, we … Read more »