September 16, 2018

Proverbs 1:20-33 Psalm 19 James 3:1-12 Mark 8:27-38 “Teaching: A Cross and a Gift” When I am teaching about the Bible, I often point out that the Bible is not just one book, but it is a collection of books. Remember your French, I tell the children. What is the French word for library? (Bibliotheque) Right, the Bible is a “bibliotheque” a whole library of different types of books. There are history books, and poetry, and collections of letters, and genealogical record books. There are mythic stories, and hymn books, and rule books. Just like a library, the Bible is a collection of books by different authors who lived and wrote in different times and places, but all inspired in a spectacular way by the One God in whom they believed and whom they followed. This morning’s Scripture passages are the ones assigned in the Revised Common Lectionary of readings for this Sunday, and the Old Testament readings in particular are a celebration of the Bible – of the Word of God that guides, encourages, and corrects us in our living day-by-day. The first reading comes from the Book of Proverbs, one of the Wisdom Books of the Bible, and a collection of short, pithy sayings and advice that we would do well to consider. But I love the way this first chapter of Proverbs invites us to open our minds to God’s Wisdom in the first place. We encounter Wisdom personified as a woman calling out in the streets … Read more »

September 20, 2015

“Choosing to Serve” James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a Psalm 1 Mark 9:30-37 This morning’s scripture readings are overflowing with wisdom about how to live day-by-day as followers of Jesus and communities of God’s people. James encourages us to make ourselves pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. He calls us to submit ourselves and all our decisions to God, to resist the devil, and draw near to God who will help us with this high and difficult calling. Jesus, in Mark’s Gospel, tells his disciples and all who would follow him, that if we want to be first, we must make ourselves last and be servants to others. Showing them a little child (a vulnerable, unimportant person) Jesus teaches them that welcoming the lowly ones and the least in our societies is the way that we can welcome and honour Jesus himself. These are words of wisdom that we have heard many times before. But, I imagine, we all continue to struggle in living by them. They call us to true humility, allowing God to direct our actions and our decisions so that we are focussed on the good of others rather than ourselves, and especially focussed on the good of those who are usually left out, left behind, poor, or marginalized. The other day, I found myself preaching at the television… okay, “ranting at the television” is probably more like it. I often watch The National on … Read more »

September 16, 2012

Psalm 19 James 3:1-12 Mark 8:27-38 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen. Preachers and teachers need prayers like that one, taken from the final verse of Psalm 19. I remember my preaching professor in seminary telling us that the high pulpits in many churches should serve as a reminder to preachers of the magnitude of the task that we are called to. When we approach one of those pulpits, and make our way up the steps, we should do so in fear and trembling, he said, praying that God will give us the words to speak. Our pulpit here is not so high, not like the one I saw years ago in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Geneva where John Calvin once preached. It has a full spiral staircase with about ten steps to climb… plenty of time to think about what the preacher is about to do… plenty of time to ask for God’s help. But even as I make my way across from the lectern to the pulpit here on Sunday mornings, I’m praying something similar because I know that words matter, and I know that I’m human and I can’t always come up with the right ones on my own. The Book of James warns us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater … Read more »

September 13, 2009

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Proverbs 1:20-33 Psalm 19 James 3:1-12 Mark 8:27-38 As you know, the bible contains many different types of literature within its many books. And the book of Proverbs is part of the type of biblical material called “wisdom literature”. It is an amazing book full of wise sayings and advice for many people in many situations. And it begins with an image of wisdom personified. Wisdom is out in the street, in the squares where all the people are passing by, and she’s shouting. Woman Wisdom has chosen the busiest corner at the entrance of the city gates, and she is calling “How long, O simple ones? How long will you love being simple? How long will you hate knowledge? I have called to you, and made my words known to you. I have offered to share my wisdom with you, and you have ignored me.” Wisdom is sick and tired of being ignored, and she seems to be giving up on the people who don’t have any use for her. “It’ll serve you right!” becomes her message. If you ignore wisdom, things won’t go well for you, and you’ll have to deal with it all on your own, without any knowledge or wisdom to help you. Now it could be that the wisdom that is calling out to us today is simply the many proverbs that we find in the bible. The image of Woman Wisdom calling out is a great way to … Read more »