July 8, 2012

2 Corinthians 12:2-10 Mark 6:1-13 Over the past few Sundays, I have found that the scripture readings have led me to focus on a particular characteristic or virtue that was either demonstrated by the characters in the texts, or called for by the writers. Two weeks ago, I found myself focussed on the virtue of courage. Last Sunday, the texts invited us to explore the virtue of generosity. And today, I guess we need to talk about strength and, surprisingly, also about weakness. The apostle Paul, continuing his second letter to the Corinthians, demonstrates both his weakness and his strength as a leader in the early Christian Church. What’s happening in this part of the letter is that Paul is trying to convince the Corinthians to pay attention to him and follow his leadership. There seem to be a lot of different influences in the community, and many of the Christians in this church are being led astray by other leaders who are being touted as “super apostles”. These are people who have been given special spiritual gifts, people who have seen visions and had unusual experiences. When the “super apostles” boast of their experiences, many of the people are impressed and start looking to these others for direction instead of the man who first introduced them to Christianity and started up their church. Paul, too, has received the gift of spiritual experiences. We remember from the account in the book of Acts how he was struck blind on the … Read more »

July 5, 2015

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 Mark 6:1-13 “Thorny Issues” Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of being invited to commission the Camp Christopher staff and counsellors for the summer ministry that will begin later today when the first group of junior campers arrives for a week at camp. From what I have seen of this particular group of young people, ranging in age from about 15-25 years of age, they will be a wonderful team. They are energetic, enthusiastic, gifted in many ways, and they are full of love and faith to share with the many children and youth that will visit the camp this summer. The theme for this summer’s Bible study at camp is “Power Up!” and it’s all about the Holy Spirit. And so, during the commissioning service, we reflected together on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at camp and among the staff. We remembered the fact that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God, and that it is poured out on the people of God giving them power to proclaim the gospel in word and action. We talked about how we will know that the Spirit is working in our lives and relationships because it will produce fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and all the other fruit of the Spirit. And the Spirit will also bind Christians together in love and unity, and that will be evident in the ways that the staff at camp relate to each other … Read more »

July 12, 2015

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 Mark 6:14-29 “Playing Politics” On a first reading, it seems like the connection between the Old and New Testament readings this morning is the theme of dancing. We had David dancing the ark of the covenant into the City of David, followed by some scolding from his wife for making a spectacle of himself. And then we had Herod’s daughter dancing for the entertainment of her father and his guests, followed by an unfortunate turn of events resulting in the beheading of John the Baptist. Besides the very fact of the dancing, the stories seem otherwise unrelated. The first one is about victory, about giving the glory to God, and about praising God without reserve in song, and dance, and sacrifices of thanksgiving. The Gospel story is about lavish parties, and young women dancing for the pleasure of old men. It’s about violence and murder, cowardice and injustice. It’s about the sacrifice of an innocent person so that a weak king can save face. Some commentators have pointed out that both kings are playing politics. David is a wise politician, and while the people think well of him, his wife Michal accuses him of false humility. David claims to be dancing for the glory of God, but she suspects that he is putting on a spectacle for his own glory instead. Is the procession really about praise and thanksgiving to God for victory? Or is it a subtle way for David to associate himself with the … Read more »

July 19, 2015

Psalm 23 Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 “Rest Awhile” Jesus said to his apostles: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.” This has been an interesting text to reflect on during the final week of work before my holidays. The context for the apostles is that they have been out on the road for some time… preaching, teaching, and healing in Jesus’ name. Remember how Jesus sent them out two by two? He gave them power to do amazing things, and off they went without the security of bringing food, or money, or extra supplies. In some places they were likely welcomed, and in others the people had no interest in their message. When that happened, they dusted off their feet, and kept going on the mission. Now they are back with Jesus, telling about their adventures… excitedly sharing the moments of wonder and grace when people were healed and lives were transformed… wearily recounting the challenges and disappointments, and how those defeats made them feel as they continued on their way. Jesus wisely invites his workers to take a break. Perhaps the plan is to spend more time reflecting on the mission so far, and to make plans for the next steps, but perhaps the plan is just to rest – to sleep, to eat (which they have hardly had time to do), to pray, to think, and to rest some more. Jesus said, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.” … Read more »