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 14, 2010

Psalm 32 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 The big churchy word that I didn’t use with the children this morning is RECONCILIATION – but that is the over-arching theme in the scripture readings today. Reconciliation with God is longed for by the psalmist. It is celebrated in Luke’s parable. And in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, reconciliation is the word of the day! Paul writes to the Church at Corinth, proclaiming the good news that God has reconciled us to himself through Christ. And he goes on to tell them that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. And so, this sermon will be something of an exploration of the word “reconciliation” and what it might mean for us, both as something that God has done for us, and something that God is inviting us to do for others. Within the practices of the Roman Catholic Church, reconciliation is the official name of one of the seven sacraments. It is seen as something that Jesus did, and something that he instructed his followers to keep on doing in the same way. You may know about this sacrament simply by the name “confession” – when a person confesses their sins to a priest, and the priest offers absolution – an assurance of God’s forgiveness offered freely to the one who confesses their sin and turns back to God. “Reconciliation” is the name of the sacrament, in which God acts to reconcile the person to God, to restore relationship, and … Read more »

March 13, 2011

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 Psalm 32 Luke 15:11-32 The liturgical season of Lent is typically a time set aside for penitence. On Ash Wednesday, a group of us gathered here at the church, just as Christians gathered around the world, and we were invited to enter a period of self-examination, repentance, prayer, and fasting. Indeed, we are called to use these forty days (between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday) as a time of particular reflection on our sins, the ways that we separate ourselves from God and from one another. Thus, it is easy to characterize Lent as the sombre, solemn period of the church year. The fact that Psalm 32 is set for the first Sunday of Lent in our lectionary suggests that there seems to be more to this season than solemnity. The title given to this psalm in the NRSV translation says a lot. It’s titled, “The Joy of Forgiveness.” The psalmist offers a “before” and an “after” picture of his experience of confessing his sins to God. Here’s what things were like BEFORE he made his confession. He laments: “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” But then he acknowledges his sins to God: “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” he says. And AFTER the confession, he comes to know God’s forgiveness, an experience of relief and … Read more »

March 6, 2016

Joshua 5:9-12 Psalm 32 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 “Everything Has Become New!” We have some great scripture readings today, for this fourth Sunday in Lent, on the theme of reconciliation. As a season in which we are invited to prayer, confession, and returning to God, these are wonderful readings. In Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, we are reminded that no matter what our history, no matter how many poor decisions we have made, no matter how irresponsible we have been, no matter how far we have run from God, God welcomes us home. God runs to us, embraces us, and treats us like precious children once again. Psalm 32 also encourages us to come back to God when we have strayed. It points out the peace and joy that we can experience when we are forgiven, noting the gnawing guilt and shame we often feel before we admit our mistakes, and the relief that comes from being honest and getting things off our chest. In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul explains that God does not count our sins against us, but freely invites us to be reconciled through Christ. Paul himself has experienced the joy of being forgiven, turning his life away from persecuting Christians towards a new mission of bringing the good news of Jesus to Jews and Gentiles alike. And now God has given him a ministry of reconciliation – encouraging others to turn to God as well, and to experience … Read more »