February 23, 2020

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 2 Corinthians 5:20b- – 6:10 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 “Ash Sunday” In the first reading for Ash Wednesday, the prophet Joel calls for a trumpet blast to go out and warn the people that they must change their lives and return to God with all their hearts. It makes me think of the warning cries that we are hearing lately from the young prophets of our time. They also are sounding trumpets and blowing whistles, striking from school, making speeches, addressing the world through social media, and calling us to make radical changes for the future of the planet. The call of the prophets then and now challenges God’s people to cease their parties and celebrations, and to come together instead in a solemn assembly of weeping and mourning. Joel says that even the bridegroom must leave his room, and the bride her canopy, and join the community in repentance and fasting. The message is hopeful because the people are assured of God’s grace and mercy. The prophet says that the Lord is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. God relents from punishing. And yet, there is urgency to the call. They must return to God with all their hearts and change their lives today. Likewise, we are warned in our time that the environmental crisis is indeed a crisis. We’ve been aware of it my whole life, and responding in bits and pieces by avoiding littering, recycling a little more, and slowly developing new energy … Read more »

October 24, 2010

Joel 2:23-32 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 Luke 18:9-14 Singing: “I am amazing! I am filled with power! And God loves me like crazy! I am amazing!” Some of you may remember that as the first verse of the theme song from Camp Christopher this summer. I shared the song with you back in May when we celebrated Camp Sunday here at St. Andrew’s. And if you’re anything like me, you probably felt slightly awkward throwing your arms in the air and singing out loud about how amazing and wonderful you are. I don’t think it’s that we are particularly shy or awkward people. Some might say that it’s because we are Presbyterians… very reserved and proper individuals… But I wonder if, really, it’s awkward for us to sing “I am amazing” because we’ve been taught from a young age that we should be humble. We should not make ourselves the centre of attention. We should not be proud or brag about our accomplishments. Today’s parable seems to come down hard on people who think too highly of themselves. In particular, it’s another one of the Gospel stories that doesn’t make the Pharisees look very nice. You remember who the Pharisees were, right? They were very devout and religious Jews who took their faith seriously and lived according to the commandments. The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, for example, before his conversion to the way of Jesus. So it seems that Jesus is telling a story to ‘stick it to the … Read more »