June 22, 2008

Genesis 21:8-21Psalm 86Romans 6:1-11Matthew 10:24-39 Today’s Gospel passage from Matthew consists of some sayings and words of instruction and encouragement from Jesus to his inner circle of followers. In last week’s reading (the first part of chapter 10) Jesus summoned his twelve disciples, gave them power to cast out demons and cure diseases, and sent them out to the “lost sheep of Israel” to proclaim the good news, cure the sick, raise the dead, and generally to do the kinds of things Jesus himself was doing. So, keeping in mind the mission that Jesus had just given to these leaders in his group, let us examine the further instructions that he gives to them. Our passage begins with a proverbial saying: “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master.” As students of Jesus, the disciples are being told that they will experience the same kinds of challenges and struggles that Jesus did. He was persecuted. So will they be. He was rejected by many. So will they experience rejection. Jesus points out that some people have called him “Beelzebul” (another name for the devil) and these people are not likely to treat Jesus’ followers any better. As Jesus’ disciples went out to the towns of Israel, proclaiming the good news about the coming kingdom, and healing and helping people in Jesus’ name, they probably did experience some resistance … Read more »

June 22, 2014

Genesis 21:8-21 Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 Romans 6:1b-11 Matthew 10:24-39 “Not the Easy Way” What interesting scripture readings we have to consider this morning! First we heard the story of Hagar and Ishmael. They are rejected and mistreated by Abraham and Sarah, sent out into the wilderness to die of thirst, but God takes care of them and protects them. God saves them and provides a future for them. Next we heard from the psalmist who was struggling with some kind of trouble. In the midst of his situation he does not despair, but he calls on God for hope and help. He remembers that God has done wonderful things before. He remembers God’s power and might, and prays that God will help him once again. Then we had a passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans. The Apostle has just finished explaining that our justification by faith through God’s boundless grace is a free gift from God. God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And then, in today’s passage, Paul says that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death… we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” In other words, following Jesus means following him into death and following him into life. It means dying … Read more »

November 22, 2015

Romans 6:1-14 Philippians 4:4-9 Matthew 6:25-34 “Free to Take Hold of Life” Thanksgiving weekend was more than a month ago, and we are beginning to think about and anticipate Advent and Christmas. But our American friends are just getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving this week. It is an interesting recapitulation that today’s Gospel passage is the same one that we read and studied on our Thanksgiving Sunday, just as our neighbours are coming to their Thanksgiving. Jesus invites us to set our worries aside, and to think about today instead of fretting about tomorrow. On Thanksgiving Sunday, I suggested that thankfulness might be the opposite of worry, and I encouraged us to let our hearts be filled to overflowing with gratitude so there could be no room for anxious worrying. But just a couple of weeks after I preached that sermon, I found that some of our Board and Session members were indeed worrying. They were worrying about our church finances, and worrying that if we didn’t do something to change our course, we might end the year with another deficit that could cause us some significant problems for the future. Now, you might assume that the reason for this month’s Stewardship-themed services is a desperate attempt on our part to boost offerings and avoid a deficit. But, in fact, the Stewardship Committee reviewed the Stewardship materials and decided to use them way back in the Spring before we knew where things would be at in November. Of course we … Read more »