July 8, 2018

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 Mark 6:6b-13 “Casting Out Demons?” In an earlier draft of this morning’s sermon, I started off with an exploration of the major characters in this morning’s biblical texts. I wrote about David, who started out small and became a great king. I wrote about Paul, who was an amazing apostle, but had his own embarrassing past of persecuting Christians. And even once those two became the wonderful leaders that they were, they still had weaknesses. David let his passion get the better of him, took advantage of his royal position and power, and needed to be corrected by the prophet Samuel. And although we don’t know much about Paul’s difficulties, we know that he had some. He tells us that he struggled with a kind of “thorn in his flesh” that kept him from perfection so that he had to rely on God’s grace instead of just his own natural ability to be a successful minister of the gospel. These guys are great examples for us, especially when our struggles are with perfectionism or our ego needs. When we get anxious about doing everything right, doing everything ourselves, and get worked up over the possibility of making a mistake or forgetting something important. And I admit that those are the kinds of things that I struggle with. I like to be prepared. I like to do well at my ministry, and be well-regarded by others. Of course, I know that perfection is not … Read more »

July 5, 2015

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 Mark 6:1-13 “Thorny Issues” Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of being invited to commission the Camp Christopher staff and counsellors for the summer ministry that will begin later today when the first group of junior campers arrives for a week at camp. From what I have seen of this particular group of young people, ranging in age from about 15-25 years of age, they will be a wonderful team. They are energetic, enthusiastic, gifted in many ways, and they are full of love and faith to share with the many children and youth that will visit the camp this summer. The theme for this summer’s Bible study at camp is “Power Up!” and it’s all about the Holy Spirit. And so, during the commissioning service, we reflected together on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at camp and among the staff. We remembered the fact that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God, and that it is poured out on the people of God giving them power to proclaim the gospel in word and action. We talked about how we will know that the Spirit is working in our lives and relationships because it will produce fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and all the other fruit of the Spirit. And the Spirit will also bind Christians together in love and unity, and that will be evident in the ways that the staff at camp relate to each other … Read more »

July 8, 2012

2 Corinthians 12:2-10 Mark 6:1-13 Over the past few Sundays, I have found that the scripture readings have led me to focus on a particular characteristic or virtue that was either demonstrated by the characters in the texts, or called for by the writers. Two weeks ago, I found myself focussed on the virtue of courage. Last Sunday, the texts invited us to explore the virtue of generosity. And today, I guess we need to talk about strength and, surprisingly, also about weakness. The apostle Paul, continuing his second letter to the Corinthians, demonstrates both his weakness and his strength as a leader in the early Christian Church. What’s happening in this part of the letter is that Paul is trying to convince the Corinthians to pay attention to him and follow his leadership. There seem to be a lot of different influences in the community, and many of the Christians in this church are being led astray by other leaders who are being touted as “super apostles”. These are people who have been given special spiritual gifts, people who have seen visions and had unusual experiences. When the “super apostles” boast of their experiences, many of the people are impressed and start looking to these others for direction instead of the man who first introduced them to Christianity and started up their church. Paul, too, has received the gift of spiritual experiences. We remember from the account in the book of Acts how he was struck blind on the … Read more »