January 16, 2022

1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

“For the Common Good”

The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth is one of my favourite books of the Bible. I guess I like it because I can relate to the Christians at Corinth. They’re trying to figure out how to live as Christians in a diverse society of many religions, values, and cultures. They don’t have everything about their faith or practices worked out, but they’re doing their best to follow Jesus. And they don’t always agree with each other about everything, and need to work through differences and conflicts with Paul’s help.

In the context of all those challenges and a church that the Apostle criticizes quite strongly for their divisions and wrong priorities, there is a very strong message in the letter that God loves them and has blessed them with many gifts.

Over the years, Christians have reflected on today’s passage and the listing of spiritual gifts and tried to discern which gifts they have received. I’ve been at retreats and led workshops where we’ve completed “Spiritual Gift Inventories” to consider how God has blessed us, usually following up with making plans for how we might develop and use those gifts more fully.

I … Read more »

January 9, 2022

Isaiah 43:1-7
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

“Still With Us”

Seven months ago, I preached on the same texts that appear in the lectionary for today – Isaiah 43 and Luke 3. They were the texts that I chose for the opening worship of the online General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada as I finished my term as Moderator.

On that Sunday at the beginning of June, I sat alone in our sanctuary here at First Church in front of my laptop computer, and preached to Presbyterians across the country as we began the important meeting in the strange and new context of an online forum.

Normally, General Assemblies begin with the celebration of Holy Communion together. And as we gather around the Lord’s Table, we remember that Christ is present with us – the host at the meal. We are united with one another and with Christ through the shared Sacrament, and nourished for the days ahead of meeting, deliberating, and deciding with the assurance of the Spirit’s presence and help.

But since we couldn’t do that, we remembered our Baptisms instead. Reading one of the accounts of Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River, we could almost see that Holy Spirit coming down from the … Read more »

January 2, 2022

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
Revelation 21:1-6a
Matthew 25:31-46

“A Time to Welcome Christ”

As we begin a New Year, the passage from Ecclesiastes seems very appropriate for our reflection on the year past and our looking forward to all that is in store for us in 2022. The author of the Wisdom Book of Ecclesiastes helps us to keep the events of the last year in perspective, remembering that there were good times and challenging times, and that God was with us through them all.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…” There is a time and a season for each purpose – good news for those of us who often feel like we are always running short on time.

Of course, the poetic listing of those various purposes is familiar to us. Perhaps we’ve encountered the passage in Bible study, or heard it read at a funeral, or maybe we just know the song by Pete Seeger, later covered by the band, “The Byrds”: “To every thing (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) … Read more »