November 29, 2020

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

“A Letter of Hope”

In the Season of Advent, I typically preach on the Gospel texts in the Revised Common Lectionary, and sometimes on the prophets. You’ve heard sermons about John the Baptist and Mary. You’ve heard sermons about waiting, and watching, and preparing for the Messiah to come and to come again to make the world right.

But this year, I’m going to preach on the Epistles instead – the snippets of letters written to the early Christian communities that brought them hope and encouragement in the context of their struggle, persecution, and desire to be faithful until the coming of the Lord.

Like the early Christian congregations that first received the letters, we know about Jesus and his love. Like them, we live in the in-between time after Christ’s incarnation and before his coming again to complete the Reign of God.

This year, perhaps more than many others, we are struggling. While we may not face the same danger and persecution that Christians did in the first century, we are suffering more than we are used to, and we are not as distracted by the usual frivolity of the season – by parties and social gatherings and concerts and family … Read more »

December 3, 2017

Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

“While We Wait”

December can be such a busy month, can’t it? Between concerts and Christmas parties, shopping and preparing for family gatherings, many of us are run off our feet during this season.

I appreciate the fact that church meetings tend to slow down in December, but with planning for special services and high expectations at this time of year, pastors too can miss the call to slow down, wait, and reflect on the birth of Christ into our world. This morning’s Scripture readings, however, call all of us to a time of waiting and watching.

For what must we wait and watch? Well, the texts remind us of the time when God’s people were waiting for a Messiah – for a Saviour to come and bring them freedom and peace.

The prophet Isaiah expressed the deep longing – almost desperation – of his people when he cried out to God: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!”

And the psalmist likewise prayed for God’s salvation, asking God to hear the people’s prayers, and let his face shine on them, and restore them to fullness of life and safety.

Of course, when we move into the … Read more »

January 26, 2014

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

“I Thank God that I Baptized None of You!”

“I thank God that I baptized none of you…” Can you imagine our church receiving a letter like that from one of our past leaders? Can you imagine Dr. Davidson (if he was still alive) or Jim McKay or Annabelle Wallace writing to us at St. Andrew’s with that kind of message? “I’ve heard that the church is full of conflict and cliques these days. The rumours about this trouble have made it all the way back to me, and I’m really disappointed. I hear that some of you are even associating yourselves with different leaders, both present ones and past. And I was absolutely shocked to hear that some of you are suggesting that I come back to St. Andrew’s because you like my way of doing things best.

“Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just not going to happen! And I thank God that I baptized none of you… Well, I did baptize a few of you and your children, but I can hardly remember which ones. And it really doesn’t matter who I baptized, or who I prepared for membership, or who I worked with on Session … Read more »

January 19, 2014

Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

“United for Mission”

The theme that stands out most strongly in this morning’s scripture readings is evangelism – the missionary call to tell others the good news of God in Jesus Christ. From the Gospel of John, we heard about John the Baptist spreading the news about Jesus, and different people hearing, turning to follow, and becoming disciples. “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” said John, pointing to Jesus. And they did. They looked. They listened. And they followed Jesus with their lives.

From Isaiah we heard an articulation of the mission of God’s People, Israel, a mission that Christians, as God’s people also share: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” In other words, our purpose is not to get focused on ourselves, on caring for, teaching, and directing those in our own group about following God. Certainly, that is important. But we can’t get stuck there. Isaiah says, “it’s too light … Read more »

January 16, 2011

The following sermon was preached at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Parish in Saskatoon. The occasion was an Ecumenical Sunday to mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-34

Before I begin, I would like to say thank you to all of you for welcoming me this morning, and thank you to Father Tony for inviting me to share my reflections on the scriptures with you. As we begin this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it is good for us to worship, to pray, and to share across denominational lines, as we seek to grow together in unity and peace.

As Tony mentioned, I am the minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, just down 20th Street at Spadina Crescent. I am pleased to see that there are a few members of my congregation here at St. Mary’s this morning, and I would encourage the members of St. Mary’s Parish, that you are most welcome to worship with us at St. Andrew’s later this morning at 11 a.m. If you decide to join us, you will get to hear Father Tony preaching, as well as to experience worship in the Reformed Tradition, just as we are sharing … Read more »

March 15, 2009

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie

Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

Has anyone ever scoffed at your faith or laughed at your religion? Have you ever gotten into a debate over the existence of God or the usefulness of practicing your faith? Many of us Christians have engaged in those kinds of conversations or debates many times over the years. And sometimes we’ve left them feeling frustrated because we couldn’t think of many great arguments in favour of Christianity. Or we’ve left them feeling guilty because we got angry with a person who couldn’t seem to accept our perspective. Or perhaps, once in a while, we’ve finished those conversations feeling good about the experience because we got a chance to share our faith – not to defend it or to justify it, but simply to tell our neighbour what we believe about God and how our beliefs affect our lives.

I don’t know very many Presbyterians who aren’t scared to death of sharing their faith with their neighbours, co-workers, and friends. And one reason for that may be because of past negative experiences — when they seemed to lose the debate, when they left the conversation feeling angry, hurt, guilty, or like … Read more »

January 27, 2008

Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1-6
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 4:12-23

Today’s Gospel reading is about the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. The author of Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum in order to fulfil the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles —
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

Later, John’s Gospel will have Jesus identify himself as “the light of the world.” And here, Matthew describes the work that Jesus is about to begin in Galilee as like a light shining into darkness, as like the sun rising for those who are in danger of death.

Jesus begins his proclamation of the reign of God, and it’s like a light has been switched on. The things Jesus says, and the way Jesus acts, and the person Jesus is in the world, help the people he encounters to start seeing things differently. He both pronounces God’s high expectations of each of … Read more »

January 20, 2008

Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-11
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

I’ve always tended to think of myself as a “middle of the road” Canadian Presbyterian. I’m pretty comfortable in a church that includes a variety of perspectives on social issues, biblical interpretation, and theology. We don’t need to agree on absolutely everything, but we can find unity in some core convictions and work together towards some common goals. And I’m pretty comfortable as a Presbyterian within the larger church community. I value our Reformed tradition with its distinctives and strengths, but I don’t need to convince Anglicans or Roman Catholics to become Presbyterians. I don’t think the Pentecostals would be better off if they joined our church, and I don’t go around saying the Presbyterians who went into Church Union 83 years ago would be much better off if they had stuck with us. In fact, when I’ve taken part in interfaith events, (like the prayers for peace that we shared a few weeks ago on New Year’s Eve down at St. Paul’s Cathedral), I’ve been aware of the fact that we have a great deal in common with other people of faith… whether they are Jewish, or Muslim, or Sikh, or Buddhist, or something … Read more »