March 2, 2008

1 Samuel 16:1-13Psalm 23John 9:1-41 The story of the day that God asked Samuel to choose a new king for the People of Israel is a good illustration of the way that God sees differently from the rest of us. The first king of Israel, King Saul, was not doing a very good job, as far as God was concerned. He wasn’t honouring God or following God’s ways, and God wanted him replaced as quickly as possible. The prophet Samuel, who had once anointed Saul to be king, now had been instructed by God to anoint a new king from among Jesse’s sons. Samuel had to go to Bethlehem, meet up with Jesse’s family, and God would show him which one of the sons was God’s chosen one to be the king. I’m not really sure why God didn’t just tell Samuel right away that David was the chosen one. While God was giving all those instructions anyway, God could easily have added, “Oh, and by the way, the kid’s name is David.” But the story is not just about the practical process of finding and anointing a new king for Israel. It also tells us something about that new king. It tells us that he wasn’t the biggest, strongest, most obvious choice for a king. His father didn’t even bother having him come in from the fields on the off chance that he might be the one. But David had the right attitude, the right sparkle in his eyes. … Read more »

January 9, 2011

Psalm 23 “Psalms of Trust: Learning to Live Without Fear” I watched a transformation taking place on Thursday evening. If anyone else watched the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” this week, then you also got to witness the transformation from fear to trust, from despair to hope, and from giving up to determination to work for the good of those who are suffering. Of course, the show is only fiction. But it’s fiction that in many ways mirrors reality, and that reflects on the struggles of real people in the world today. First of all, you need to know the background. Last season, the Seattle hospital and its employees experienced a traumatic event. A grief-stricken man entered the hospital with a gun and terrorized the staff and patients, injuring many people and killing several as well. And many of the characters of the show have not been the same since. One surgeon has been too scared to operate. Another continues to struggle with feelings of powerlessness when she is unable to save a patient. Still others are crippled by fear and the memories of that awful day. Not everyone has experienced that kind of trauma in life, but most of us have seen it on TV. And not just on dramatic television programs… We’ve seen it on the news… from shootings in schools and churches to bombings in the streets or on the subways, from beheadings on buses to planes crashing into towers. I had finished writing my sermon yesterday before … Read more »

April 21, 2013

Psalm 23 Revelation 7:9-17 “Shepherded Through the Ordeals” John of Patmos, writing in the midst of exile and persecution because of his faith and his leadership in the early Christian Church, shares a vision he has of heaven – a vision of the kingdom of God when it comes. He sees a great multitude of people, more than he could count – people from every nation, tribe, and language standing together before the throne of God. And they are singing: “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Then a question is raised, “Who are all those people? Where have they come from?” And the answer is given: “These are the ones who have come out of the great ordeal… For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship [God] day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat, for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Of course, the metaphor of God as the Shepherd of the people runs through most of our scripture readings today. God is the one who cares for us like we are precious sheep, guiding us through danger and … Read more »

March 30, 2014

I Samuel 16:1-13 Psalm 23 John 9:1-41 “God Sees Differently” The story of the day that God asked Samuel to choose a new king for the People of Israel is a good illustration of the way that God sees differently from the rest of us. The first king of Israel, King Saul, was not doing a very good job, as far as God was concerned. He wasn’t honouring God or following God’s ways, and God wanted him replaced as quickly as possible. The prophet Samuel, who had once anointed Saul to be king, now had been instructed by God to anoint a new king from among Jesse’s sons. Samuel had to go to Bethlehem, meet up with Jesse’s family, and God would show him which one of the sons was God’s chosen one to be the king. I’m not really sure why God didn’t just tell Samuel right away that David was the chosen one. While God was giving all those instructions anyway, God could easily have added, “Oh, and by the way, the kid’s name is David.” But the story is not just about the practical process of finding and anointing a new king for Israel. It also tells us something about that new king. It tells us that he wasn’t the biggest, strongest, most obvious choice for a king. His father didn’t even bother having him come in from the fields on the off chance that he might be the one. But David had the right attitude, 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 »

April 22, 2018

Psalm 23 1 John 3:16-24 John 10:11-18 “One Flock, One Shepherd” We are glad to welcome the Sons (& daughters) of Scotland to our worship today to participate in a special Kirkin’ of the Tartans, and to share food, and fellowship, and Scottish country dancing after the service. I have never led a Kirkin’ before, but I remember my home congregation in Ottawa hosting this service when I was a teenager. St. Giles Presbyterian Church (where I grew up) was a very Scottish congregation. Actually, by the time I was there, it was becoming more culturally diverse, but in the 1950’s and 1960’s, my understanding is that the church was an important place for Scottish folk to gather. Almost everyone was Scottish, and going to the Presbyterian Church was a great way to connect. In the 1980’s and 90’s there was still a remnant of the Scottish crowd, and I remember lots of Scottish accents among the older members of our church. And I was Scottish too (kinda)… a bit Scottish, a bit Irish, a bit Welsh, and a bit English. But I had a Scottish name, at least. When we did the Kirkin’ of the Tartans, I remember my parents being a bit critical of it. “We’re not a Scottish club!” they complained. “We’re a church! And many of us aren’t Scottish anymore. We have people from many different countries, cultures, and backgrounds.” But even if the Kirkin’ of the Tartans is clearly a Scottish tradition, I think it’s … Read more »