January 27, 2008

Isaiah 9:1-4Psalm 27:1-61 Corinthians 1:10-18Matthew 4:12-23 Today’s Gospel reading is about the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. The author of Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum in order to fulfil the words of the prophet Isaiah:“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,on the road by the sea, across the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles —the people who sat in darknesshave seen a great light,and for those who sat in the region and shadow of deathlight has dawned.” Later, John’s Gospel will have Jesus identify himself as “the light of the world.” And here, Matthew describes the work that Jesus is about to begin in Galilee as like a light shining into darkness, as like the sun rising for those who are in danger of death. Jesus begins his proclamation of the reign of God, and it’s like a light has been switched on. The things Jesus says, and the way Jesus acts, and the person Jesus is in the world, help the people he encounters to start seeing things differently. He both pronounces God’s high expectations of each of us, and embodies God’s amazing love and forgiveness for even the least among us. Jesus is the light that reveals who God is, how God loves us, and how God calls us to live in loving relationship with God and with one another. The Gospel tells us that from that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come … Read more »

February 10, 2008

Matthew 4:1-11 Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 Psalm 32 Romans 5:12-19 Did anyone watch the show “Little Mosque on the Prairie” this week? It’s the CBC comedy about a little Mosque in a community somewhere on the Canadian Prairies. There aren’t a huge number of Muslims in the fictional town of “Mercy” but there are enough to gather together in a rented space in an Anglican Church. And there are enough to hire a young Imam from Toronto (the clergy person in an Islamic community). This week’s episode of “Little Mosque on the Prairie” began with Friday prayers and the Imam’s sermon. It’s the beginning of the festival of Ramadan in which Muslims fast and pray, read the Qu’ran and re-focus their lives on following the ways of God, including good deeds, kindness, and helping others. Though the TV show wasn’t concerned with giving many details about the meaning and significance of Ramadan, what was clear was the call to individuals to rid themselves of bad habits, negative practices, or what in a religious context, we would call sin. Are you reminded of the Christian season of Lent that we began a few days ago on Ash Wednesday? That’s what came to my mind as I listened to an excerpt from Amar’s Ramadan sermon. Amar was really straight-forward in his sermon. He said, “You’ve got to stop lying. You’ve got to stop gossiping. You need to work on being patient, and not getting angry, because that’s what God requires of us. The … Read more »

March 9, 2014

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 Matthew 4:1-11 “Avoiding Distraction; Living into God’s Purpose” As we began the forty-day journey of Lent this week, we may have decided to take on a Lenten discipline. Some of you may have decided to give something up, like coffee, or chocolate, or video games, or taking the elevator (as my sister once did). Some of you may have decided to take something on, like praying or reading scripture every day, or attending worship or bible study every week, or giving more of your time, talent, or money to do some good in the world. You may be thinking today about how you are going to avoid the temptation to break your Lenten discipline. How are you going to make yourself get up earlier in the morning to spend time with God in prayer each day? How are you going to stop yourself from giving in, and buying and eating the Easter chocolate that is already in the stores? How are you going to stay firm in your commitment to pray, worship, and give more to God with all the many other demands on your time and attention? Although temptation and sin are the usual ways of describing this dilemma, I wonder if “distraction” is a better word for what so often goes wrong in our attempts to follow Jesus more closely during Lent and throughout the year. If you’re anything like me, distraction can get in the way of getting a lot of things done. For … Read more »