1 Corinthians 12:1-11
“For the Common Good”
The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth is one of my favourite books of the Bible. I guess I like it because I can relate to the Christians at Corinth. They’re trying to figure out how to live as Christians in a diverse society of many religions, values, and cultures. They don’t have everything about their faith or practices worked out, but they’re doing their best to follow Jesus. And they don’t always agree with each other about everything, and need to work through differences and conflicts with Paul’s help.
In the context of all those challenges and a church that the Apostle criticizes quite strongly for their divisions and wrong priorities, there is a very strong message in the letter that God loves them and has blessed them with many gifts.
Over the years, Christians have reflected on today’s passage and the listing of spiritual gifts and tried to discern which gifts they have received. I’ve been at retreats and led workshops where we’ve completed “Spiritual Gift Inventories” to consider how God has blessed us, usually following up with making plans for how we might develop and use those gifts more fully.
I … Read more »
Exodus 20:1-17; John 2:13-22
“An Everyday Covenant”
In the words of Psalm 19 that we heard again in the Ministry of Music, as we come to worship God in prayer and praise, in preaching and sacraments, we pray that what we do and say and think and feel will be pleasing to God. Those who lead in worship at our church and in faith communities around the world pray something like that before we begin each service. We remind ourselves that God is the reason why we are doing all this, and above all, we want to honour God with our offering of praise and thanksgiving.
In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus enters the central place of worship in Jerusalem and uses a whip of cords to drive out the vendors and the money changers from the outer court. These are the ones who are exchanging the currency of the people coming to worship from around the world for Temple currency and selling animals appropriate for Temple offerings and sacrifice. And the incident makes us wonder, “why?” What was happening that Jesus was objecting to? What was it that was not pleasing to God in this place where all the nations gathered … Read more »
“Time to show God’s glory”
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Time is a precious commodity in our lives today. I appreciate that all of you have set aside this hour or two for worship, and fellowship, and service in the Christian community. I know that there are many demands on your time day-by-day, and it means something when you choose to use your time in this way.
When you are deciding how to use your precious time, I wonder how you choose your activities. I wonder how you set your priorities.
Sometimes we just prioritize what seems most urgent. We work towards the deadlines that are looming largest, and leave future planning and projects until later when they too become urgent. Things get done in a hurry, but at least they get done, and we keep our heads above water as we manage our hectic lives, families, and work.
When taken to the extreme, time-crunched lives like this mean that the basics get done, but there is never any time for the extras.
Decorations go up for Christmas, but little time is spent enjoying them. Children’s food and clothing are provided, but squeezing in time to just hang out with and enjoy your kids happens rarely. You … Read more »
“The Gift of the Commandments”
Cast your mind back, if you will, to your school days. And see if you can remember the strictest teacher you had. Remember a teacher who ruled his/her classroom with an iron fist, where the students behaved and got their work done because they knew that if they didn’t, there would be consequences. I can’t help but think of Madame Méchin, my grade eight French teacher. We called her Madame Méchant when she wasn’t around – the French word for “mean, nasty, or miserable.”
I remember her with her hair pulled very tightly back in a bun, and I don’t remember her smiling. Like the other students, I was pretty scared of Madame Méchin, though I’m not sure what I thought she would to us. But I worked really hard to make sure that my homework was done, and that I was ready to answer her questions (though I hoped she wouldn’t call on me). And I definitely wasn’t going to get caught speaking English in her class.
I certainly had other teachers over the years who chose different methods and styles of teaching (some of whom I liked very much), but Madame Méchin’s strict method … Read more »
“Keep the Party Going”
On Friday afternoon, the Presbytery of Northern Saskatchewan gathered for a celebration at Mistawasis Memorial Presbyterian Church on the Mistawasis First Nation. Well, first we had a meeting to do our usual work of overseeing the ministers and congregations within the bounds of our presbytery. But then members of the Mistawasis congregation joined us for a celebratory service led by the Rev. Beverley Shepansky, followed by a potluck supper and a time of fellowship.
The reason for the party was to celebrate Bev’s ministry together with the elders and congregation at Mistawasis on the occasion of her retirement. And Bev preached about the Wedding at Cana, about Jesus turning water into wine, and about God saving the best for last… bringing out the best wine at the end of the party, and finally sending Jesus to be God’s loving, incarnate presence in the world.
It was a good party, with abundant food, good conversation, gifts shared, thanksgiving expressed, and stories of the ministry recounted with joy. Those of us from Saskatoon didn’t stay too late since we had to drive home on the snowy roads… but it made me think that we Presbyterians ought to get together just … Read more »
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
“One Family of Faith”
I’ve been looking forward to this week with great anticipation. Some people count down the days until Christmas. Some people count down the days until their birthdays. But I’ve been counting down the days until the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and I am so pleased that it has finally arrived once again.
It’s a typical third week of January in Saskatchewan, bitterly cold outside. But inside the churches of Saskatoon there is a great warmth, not only because the furnaces and boilers are working overtime, but because Christians of all backgrounds and denominations are gathering to pray, to sing, to share food and fellowship, and to celebrate together as one family of God.
Some of you come from large families and know what it’s like to go to a big family reunion. Family reunions can be great celebrations, and they can be tricky to plan. As the family has grown, people have moved in different directions. They’ve spread out across the country or even the world. They’ve left behind some family traditions and created new ones. They’ve joined together with other families and blended cultures and ways of life.
So when you get the … Read more »
Today’s Gospel story is usually referred to as “the cleansing of the temple.” It’s the dramatic story, repeated in all four of the Gospels, in which Jesus enters the great temple in Jerusalem and makes a scene. He finds people in the temple selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. He makes a whip of cords and drives all of them out. He pours out the coins and topples the tables. He yells, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”
You’ve probably heard the story before once or twice. Maybe you’ve thought about how strange it is to imagine Jesus getting angry, and been reminded perhaps that even God gets angry when bad things are happening.
Perhaps you’ve read a bit about what these practices were all about. You’ve noticed that the story takes place at Passover, one of the great pilgrimage festivals. Jewish people would have travelled from all over Judah and Israel and sometimes even further to worship at the temple and celebrate God’s great love and protection of God’s people at the Passover.
When the pilgrims arrived at the temple they would … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
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 »