March 16, 2008

Matthew 21:1-11 Jesus said: “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second son and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? What do you think?” Jesus asked the chief priests and the elders. And they, of course, picked the first son — the one who had said the wrong thing, but done the right thing. And they were right. Obedience to God is about more than just words, it’s about action, it’s about doing the right thing, not just knowing or saying the right thing. Not long before this conversation with the religious authorities at the temple, Jesus had arrived in the city of Jerusalem and caused quite a stir. A crowd had gathered, as it often did whenever Jesus was out preaching and healing and doing the kinds of things that Jesus did. And the crowd was just about as excited and lively as it ever was before in the stories of Jesus. We don’t know who the people were who made up the crowd that day, but we can imagine that they were people who knew at least a little about Jesus. Many of them had probably been travelling with him along the way. They’d … Read more »

October 5, 2008

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 11-20Matthew 21:33-46 A few weeks ago, I caught an episode of The Simpsons on TV. Some of you likely watch The Simpsons (an animated program for adults), and others of you may find the show annoying or even rude. But those of you who do enjoy The Simpsons probably appreciate it as a humorous social commentary. If you want to have a good discussion about politics, education, the environment, family life, or religion, an episode of The Simpsons can often be a good discussion starter. Anyway, the episode that I watched a few weeks ago began with a scene about the Hebrews camping out in the wilderness. While Moses is up on the mountain talking to God, we meet some of the Hebrew men down below. First, there is an artist — a sculptor. He’s working on his latest creation (a beautiful golden calf) and he’s already praising it as if it were a god. Then there’s his friend who’s obviously a player. He just isn’t a “one woman man,” you might say. And then there’s the character represented by Homer Simpson. His pockets are full of other people’s stuff. He’s a pick pocket and a thief, and he’s pretty good at what he does. But all of a sudden Moses shows up. He’s just down from his latest conversation with God, and God has given him some rules for the people to follow. Moses says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol… you shall not … Read more »

April 17, 2011

Canadians are preparing for a federal election on Monday, May 2, 2011. This morning’s sermon suggests that our faith should be the basis for all our decisions, including how we respond to complex ethical dilemmas, and how we choose to vote. The Presbyterian Church in Canada does not support a particular party or political agenda, but it does encourage Presbyterians to engage with the issues and be a part of the process. On the website of the Presbyterian Church in Canada you will find several election guides that may assist you as you study the issues and consider the options. They also provide some helpful questions that you may want to put to your candidates, particularly related to the issues of poverty and justice. Matthew 21:1-11 Philippians 2:5-11 I was thinking a lot about the federal election as I was preparing my sermon for this morning. I was thinking about the political rallies and the crowds of people waving signs and hoping to catch a glimpse of, or shake hands with their favourite leader. Not that Canadian politics has any really charismatic leaders like Obama once was in the United States. I’m not sure what’s worse… to get really excited about a leader and then to turn against him when he doesn’t manage to satisfy all your desires, or to just not get excited about anyone at all. On Palm Sunday, we are invited to join with the cheering crowds who greeted Jesus as he entered the city of Jerusalem … Read more »

October 2, 2011

Philippians 3:4b-14 Matthew 21:33-46 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. I wonder if you have ever felt like that when you heard one of Jesus’ stories of parables. I wonder if you have ever read something in the scriptures and thought, “That was written for me!” Or if you have ever listened to a sermon, and wondered if the preacher was addressing you specifically. Well, when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, and when they realized that he was speaking about them, they weren’t very pleased. Though the crowds thought that Jesus was something special, the religious leaders had concluded that Jesus was a problem – telling stories that cast them in a negative role – and they wanted to arrest them. You see, when the religious leaders of Jesus’ time heard today’s parable, they must have quickly figured out that it was an allegory. It wasn’t a story about an actual historical landowner who leased out his land to some bad tenants and had to deal with the consequences. It was an allegory – a made-up story in which the characters and plot lines represent actual people and things that are happening in the world. Listen to the parable again, and consider… where might the religious leaders of Jesus’ day have seen themselves in Jesus’ parable? There was a landowner who planted vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, … Read more »

April 13, 2014

Matthew 21:1-11 Matthew 26:30-35 “Palm Branch Flash Mob” I wonder how many of you have participated in a demonstration or a political protest. How many of you have showed up at a rally to speak out against a funding cut, or to encourage a government to take action, or to show solidarity with an oppressed group? Have you ever stood in a crowd and chanted a slogan? Have you ever walked in step with a group, wondering if your presence will make a difference, or send a message, or wield some power when joined with others who care about the issue enough to show up and participate? Some of you grew up in the hey-day of protests, demonstrations, and marches in the 1960’s when young people banded together to make their voices heard in the political world. Even those who were not particularly “into” politics got involved at least occasionally, swept up by the excitement and enthusiasm of being part of a movement. In recent years, such gatherings are becoming more and more frequent again. Around the world, young people are coming together in parks, and squares, and shopping malls to proclaim – not only with their votes, but with their voices and their very presence – that regimes, and dictatorships, and unjust systems and cultures and practices are not going to be accepted anymore. The people are going to demand change, and sometimes they are actually going to get it. The “Idle no more” movement that started right here … Read more »

October 5, 2014

Matthew 21:33-46 “Rejected” Late in the first century A.D., a group of Christians is gathered to worship God and tell the stories of their Lord Jesus. They come together regularly, especially on the first day of the week. They sing songs of praise. They recount the stories of Jesus that have been passed on for decades – the things he said, the wonders he did, and especially the way he gave his life for theirs. Then they share a meal together – a simple meal of bread and wine, and they tell each other of the meals that Jesus once shared with his followers and the way he told them to remember him in the breaking of the bread. Today, it is Matthew’s turn to tell the story, and he recounts a parable that Jesus once told to the chief priests and the Pharisees. It’s another parable about a vineyard. They’ve heard a lot of those recently, but Matthew assures them that this one is different. There’s a landowner who decides to plant a vineyard. He puts a fence around it, digs a wine press in it, and builds a watchtower. Then he leases the land to some tenants who are supposed to work the land, produce fruit, and hand over the fruit to the owner at harvest time. But they don’t. When the landowner sends his servants to collect the produce, they are beaten, stoned, and killed. In the middle of the story, Matthew is interrupted… “He’s got to … Read more »

April 9, 2017

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Matthew 21:1-11 Psalm 118:1-4, 19-29 Isaiah 50:4-9a Listen to this Sermon “The Whole Story” Over the last 40 years or so, Presbyterians, together with many of the other mainline Christian denominations, have begun to follow the “Church Year” in our worship and devotional life. Downstairs in our church library, there is a wonderful felt wall hanging that can be rolled down for a lesson on the “Church Year.” It’s got a big circle like a pie chart, and the pieces of the pie are different colours for the different seasons… blue for Advent, white for Christmas, green for ordinary time, purple for Lent, white for Easter, and a little sliver of red for Pentecost Sunday. As we make our way through the church year, we remember the story of our faith, the events in the life of Jesus, and the experiences of the early Christian Churches. The readings from the Revised Common Lectionary guide us to follow Jesus from his birth, through his childhood, his baptism by John, and time in ministry as he travelled throughout Galilee. But this week, Holy Week, is perhaps the most dramatic time of the year as we are invited to journey with Jesus through the final week of his life. Today, we remember his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And if we follow the daily lectionary readings through the week… On Monday we hear about Mary of Bethany, anointing Jesus for his burial. On Tuesday Jesus teaches his disciples … Read more »

October 1, 2017

Matthew 21:23-32 Philippians 2:1-13 “Changing our Minds” Jesus told another parable in order to get his point across to the religious leaders of his day. They were acting like hypocrites – very good and holy in their teachings and ideals, but not living according to those same high standards. And as we hear the parable again today, we are invited to ask ourselves… “Which son do I most resemble?” When God asks me to go to work in some sort of service or mission in the church or in the world, am I the one who hesitates at first? Am I the one who is unsure that I really want to get involved or put in the effort required? Am I the one who initially says “no,” but eventually decides to do what I am being asked to do? Or am I the one who says, “Yes, Lord, of course I will help!” But then I get distracted. I get busy… terribly busy. I just don’t manage to make the time in my life for that service, and so I don’t go. I intended to go, but I didn’t go. Of course, it is obvious to everyone that, although both sons in the parable say one thing and do another, the repentance of the first is preferable to the hypocrisy of the second. True righteousness is in the doing, rather than in the confessing. We’ve got to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. If you’re like me, … Read more »