Christmas Memorial Sermon – December 10, 2008

The following sermon was preached at the annual Christmas Memorial Service for St. John’s Columbarium on December 10, 2008. The service took place at St. John’s Cathedral in Saskatoon, SK. Matthew 1:18-23Psalm 91John 1:1-5, 14, 18 Many years ago, before the time of Jesus, God’s People, Israel, were struggling with their circumstances as an occupied People, and they were struggling in their relationship with God. The Roman occupiers had control of their land. And though the Jews were allowed to live there and practice their religion, they had to pay taxes to Caesar, deal with the Roman soldiers, and cope with the fact that they were not really free. Of course, this was not the first time that God’s People had experienced being conquered by a foreign power, it was not the first time that they had been controlled and oppressed by a more powerful nation, and it was not the first time that their difficulties led many among them to doubt God’s presence and love and to turn away from God. Through the Season of Advent, in particular, the bible readings that we hear each Sunday in church remind us of other times of struggle and doubt in the history of God’s People. We are reminded that the People of Israel have always experienced troubles in their attempts to maintain their culture, their religion, and the land that God promised to them. The history of God’s People includes being conquered by a series of foreign powers, being exiled from … Read more »

February 21, 2010

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm 91 Romans 10:8b-13 Luke 4:1-13 Today’s Gospel reading is the classic one for the first Sunday in the season of Lent. As we begin 40 days of Lenten prayer and preparation before the celebration of Easter, we hear about the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting and praying in the wilderness before he began his ministry. Luke’s version of the story is by far the most interesting, as he gives details of the temptations that Jesus might have experienced, and how he managed to overcome those temptations by focussing on God’s Word. Three times, the devil appears, leading Jesus into temptation. And three times, Jesus avoids being led astray. Since Jesus is so hungry, he is first tempted to turn the stones into bread. But he reminds himself of God’s word: “One does not live by bread alone,” and the temptation passes. Next, he is tempted to use his power to become the ruler of the whole world. If he bows down to worship the devil, the evil one claims that Jesus can have it all. But Jesus knows another relevant verse: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” He refuses to worship anyone or anything other than God. The third and final temptation is for Jesus to test God and God’s love for him. The evil one can quote scripture too, and he challenges Jesus to throw himself down from the very top of the temple, in order to see if God will save … Read more »

September 29, 2013

“Take Hold of Eternal Life” 1 Timothy 6:6-19 Psalm 91 Luke 16:19-31 Not long ago, I read about a period in Christian history in which many people were waiting until very late in life before they were baptized. Whereas many Churches today baptize infants and young children, and others ask people to wait until they are young adults and ready to make a conscious choice in accepting the lifetime commitment to following Jesus, there was a time around the 3rd – 4th centuries, following the period of Christian persecution, when many Christians would not be baptized until the end of their life – sometimes even receiving the Sacrament on their death beds. One of the rationales for delaying baptism was the fear that after baptism they might sin again. Though they had been washed spiritually clean by their baptism, they weren’t sure what would happen if they made a serious mistake afterwards. Would God forgive them again? They weren’t sure, and so the baptism needed to be just before death so that they would be pure and holy at the end of their lives, and ready to be welcomed into heaven. Another reason for putting off baptism until old age may have been that living the Christian life seemed onerous and stifling. Putting off baptism meant that people could live how they wanted – enjoying all the pleasures they desired – then repent and be baptized later, thus securing their comfort and joy in the afterlife as well. The rich … Read more »

November 15, 2015

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Psalm 91 Mark 12:41-44 “Free From the Uncertainty of Riches” I bought a new car this week. Actually, Nick and I signed the paper work a couple of weeks ago before he went out of town for work, but it arrived on Thursday and I handed over our old car and picked up the new one on my own. It felt like a strange thing to be doing in the middle of this Stewardship series. You see, there was all this fuss about a new car. The sales people, in particular, seemed to want me to be SO EXCITED! It made me think of old game shows like “The Price is Right” where a curtain opens to reveal a shiny new vehicle, the announcer proclaims, “A New Car!” and the studio audience erupts in cheers of joy. Nick and I thought carefully about this large purchase, decided it was time to get ourselves a more reliable and larger car, and agreed that we would trade in the old one and remain a one-vehicle family to keep our expenses down and make sure that we didn’t lose precious time spent together. I love driving, and it is kind of fun to be driving a new car, but the scriptures and the theme of today’s service remind me that our material possessions (our riches) provide us neither security, nor true joy and peace. These things are uncertain. These circumstances of our lives are precarious. Imagine if you were to … Read more »

February 14, 2016

Luke 4:1-13 Psalm 91 “Choosing Better” Today we jump back to almost the beginning of the stories of Jesus, to the time just after Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan. His ministry in Galilee had not even begun yet. Just days ago, he had received the Holy Spirit and heard the voice of God from heaven saying to him, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” But before his ministry as the beloved son of God begins, there is a time of trials and temptations. The Spirit, that Jesus had only just received, leads him out into the wilderness, where for forty days he is tempted by the devil. The trials he endured there out in the desert, must have included the heat of the burning sun, the loneliness of his isolation, and the pain of an empty stomach. Just the kind of experience that would get most people to a state of overwhelming self-pity. Just the kind of thing that would prompt most of us to do anything, to sacrifice anything to get back to the relative comforts of home, or at least to get a good meal and a cool glass of water. And while Jesus is in this weakened state, Luke tells us that the devil spoke to him and tempted him three times. “If you are the Son of God,” the evil one taunted him, “Command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” And Jesus answers with … Read more »