Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
“When you come into your kingdom…”
In the midst of a world in which the refugee crisis is staggering, with millions of people on the move and looking for a place to call home…
In the midst of a world in which human rights abuses are committed every day in Iraq, Burma, Gambia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and so many other regions…
In the midst of a world in which there is talk in the U.S. of building walls to keep people out, deporting millions, and registering and monitoring people of a certain religion…
In the midst of a world in which, even in Canada, there are attacks on houses of worship, based on religion, culture, and race…
We need the words of the psalmist more than ever: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult… the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
The morning after the U.S. election a couple of … Read more »
In the course of the liturgical year — the church year — today, we are at the end. This morning we celebrate the reign of Christ, and next Sunday we begin the Season of Advent, the time of waiting for the birth of Christ into our world. But for many of us, we’re already starting to get ourselves ready for Christmas.
When I went to lead worship at one of the retirement homes on Wednesday, the first question I was asked as I was setting up for worship was, “Are you going to talk about Christmas today?” I said, “No, it’s a bit early to talk about Christmas today. It’s still November!” But then just yesterday we did have our annual Christmas Tea and Bake Sale here at the church, our children are starting to practice their Christmas Pageant this morning, and look, we even have a Christmas tree (or at least an Advent tree) lit up this morning.
We’ve got “baby Jesus” on the brain already in November, but the lectionary this morning jumps us forward in time, past the angels and shepherds, past the childhood and baptism of Jesus, past his ministry in Galilee, all the … Read more »
“For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” It’s a hard saying from Jesus. It’s strange, and jarring, and it seems counter to everything we know about our loving God and our compassionate Christ. “As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This is the master’s response to the slave who received a gift, (just a small gift), and did nothing with it. He tried to hold on to it. He buried it in the ground. And after that, he wouldn’t be receiving any more gifts from the master.
It reminds me of a story that I read recently: A man went each day to his back yard and uncovered his money, which was buried in the ground. He would then put it back in the ground and cover it up again. To his shock and disappointment, on a particular day he dug up the ground only to discover his money was gone! He began to cry out in dismay. His neighbour … Read more »
I don’t think I will forget the sound of her voice on the phone. She said, “Everyone is against me!” The words themselves, and the fear and desperation in her voice brought back memories of some of the folks I worked with years ago in a group home.
When they said, “Everyone is against me” it was usually a case of paranoid symptoms coming up in what was a relatively well-managed mental illness. These were people who were well cared for, safe, and secure, but who suffered from paranoid delusions at times.
But the single mother of four on the other end of the phone line was not delusional. She was simply lamenting the reality of her situation. She didn’t have a safe place to live. She didn’t have good food to feed to her children. And as often as she tried to access services to help, she came up against one road block after another. She felt alone and abandoned, and like everyone was against her.
As I stumbled to speak the words of reassurance that I knew she needed to hear, I was aware that my words would not be enough. As a preacher, I could easily find … Read more »
This morning the prophet Amos, whom we heard from last Sunday as well, continues his rant against the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE.
Amos puts God’s judgment and anger into words for the people so that there can be no doubt about what they have done wrong and why God is getting fed up with them.
Amos is addressing the people who trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land. He talks about how they sell grain to the poor, but they cheat them by using false scales. They are liars and cheats – trying to get rich at someone else’s expense.
Be assured, Amos warns them, God is paying attention and God has a good memory. God is going to turn things upside down. Their feasts will be over, and they will be mourning instead.
One of the things that I find most interesting about reading the prophets is the visions that they talk about. They get these strange images in their minds, and each one represents some kind of message from God.
You probably remember the popular one from the prophet Ezekiel, when he saw a valley full … Read more »
When I first looked at this morning’s scripture texts earlier this week, I was fairly sure that I would preach on the Gospel story about the Good Samaritan. It’s such a classic story of our faith, and it offers us a lot to reflect on. And so, as I went through the week, my thoughts were centered on the question of what it means to be a good neighbour.
That theme was in my mind every day this week… every time the door bell rang here at the church, and there was someone in crisis standing in front of me and asking for help. I did my best to offer what I could. I listened, I prayed, I comforted and encouraged. I shared a few cups of coffee. I directed towards services in the community. And I handed out a fair amount of financial assistance from our Session Benevolence Fund.
I felt, as I often do, a mixture of frustration and guilt that I could not do more, as well as a good feeling too, because I often felt that what I was able to offer (on behalf of the church) did seem to help, to support, and … Read more »