March 21, 2010

Isaiah 43:16-21 Psalm 126 Philippians 3:4b-14 John 12:2-8 The St. Andrew’s choir, under Gill’s direction, is practicing one of my favourite anthems to share during the Good Friday service in a couple of weeks. I’ve been carrying both the melody and the words of the song around in my head recently. It goes like this: Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that you’re my God. You’re altogether lovely,altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. Although Mary of Bethany didn’t sing a song to Jesus, and she didn’t express her feelings in words, I imagine that she would have been able to relate to that expression of praise. While Martha showed her devotion to Jesus by serving him a beautiful meal, and Lazarus expressed his commitment by sitting at the table and listening to Jesus, Mary decided to demonstrate her love with an extravagant act of giving, with the intimate act of anointing. “She took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” I guess I can understand Judas’ objection to what Mary did. Whether or not he had ulterior motives, he had a good point to make – that the perfume could have been sold for 300 denarii and the money given to the poor. A denarius was approximately the daily wage for an average worker in Jesus’ time. So … Read more »

December 14, 2014

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 Psalm 126 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 John 1:6-8, 19-28 “Testify to the Light” Have you heard about the war on Christmas? It’s the idea that Western secular society is out to stop any religious celebration of Christmas by banning the use of the word itself in the public sphere, by calling “Christmas trees” “Holiday trees,” and making sure that the carols sung in public places are appropriately secular. Some particularly right-wing Christians are calling it a “war” on Christmas, and they’re actively engaged in the fight to keep Christ in Christmas. All this controversy about Christmas is an interesting development in the last few years because religious celebrations of Christ’s birth have always been held side-by-side with secular or pagan customs. Even the choice of December 25th for Christmas was not because Christians knew the exact date of Jesus’ birth, but because it seemed appropriate to hold a Christian celebration while others were marking the Winter Solstice. Things like Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, and Yule logs were incorporated into Christian celebrations from the Winter Solstice holiday called, “Yule.” Back in the 17th century, there was another controversy about Christmas. Puritan Christians in England wanted to purify Christianity by removing elements that they viewed as pagan because they were not biblical in origin. In 1647, the Puritan-led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, replacing it with a day of fasting. They considered Christmas, “a popish festival with no biblical justification,” and a time of wasteful and immoral behaviour. … Read more »