“Not So Among You”
“It is not so among you.” Those were the words of Jesus that really struck me in today’s Gospel reading. Jesus is saying that the fellowship of his followers is different from other communities in some important ways.
Contrasting the community of disciples with the way that the Gentile communities functioned, Jesus said, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you.”
It made me think of a parent or perhaps a grandparent reminding another family member that “That’s not the way we do things in our family.” The statement is not so much a description of how things always are, but an aspirational statement that reveals a community’s values, goals, and vision for how they will be together.
In the Smith family, everyone comes home for Sunday dinner and there’s always plenty of food and extra chairs for guests to come along.
In our Grade 4 class, we take turns speaking, and we never use fowl language.
In the Jones family, hard work and education are most important. No matter what path we choose, we give it … Read more »
It’s Thanksgiving Sunday! We have a lovely harvest display prepared by Jeannie and Joyce, plus a harvest of thankfulness that we added. And we have a beautiful Communion table, set for our celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Many of us will enjoy special meals and even family gatherings this weekend that give us reason to rejoice. And in the midst of the struggles and difficulties of the world today, we are very aware of our blessings.
We give thanks for food, homes, family, community, health, vaccines, meaningful work, strength and perseverance and the support we need through difficulties, the beauty of creation, and so many other good things that come from God.
And yet, our Scriptures today call us not only to be thankful and grateful this weekend for the good that we experience in life and for God who has come to us in Jesus Christ and who abides with us by the Holy Spirit. Our passages this morning from Hebrews and Mark challenge us with the difficult call of the Gospel and the BIG response that is required of us when we choose to follow Jesus.
The author of Hebrews tells us that “the word of God is living and … Read more »
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22
“To See or to Be Seen”
Sometimes when I’m reading the Gospel of Mark I start to get discouraged. I know. Reading the Gospel should not be a let-down. But when we’re making our way through Year B of the lectionary, and we get all these stories from Mark’s account of Jesus’ ministry, I sometimes start to wonder if we Christians will ever get it together and live as Jesus intends us to live.
You see, the disciples in Mark’s Gospel stories are rather slow to understand his message, and they keep making silly mistakes.
They argue about which one of them is the greatest.
They get scared when Jesus does miracles like walking on water.
They struggle to cast out an evil spirit, and don’t even think about saying a prayer.
They get upset when Jesus talks about being arrested and killed because they think he’s got to take over leadership by force.
And in last week’s text, they presumptuously demand special seats next to Jesus in the Kingdom of God.
We read these stories about the slow and stupid disciples in Bible study, and we talk about how so often we are just like them.
We also struggle in life, but forget … Read more »
“What do you want me to do for you?”
The story of blind Bartimaeus is a classic gospel story. The son of Timaeus is a blind beggar who sits by the roadside, just as blind and otherwise-handicapped people would usually do in the first century. At the side of the road, Bartimaeus would do what he was able to do in order to earn a living. He would beg. And passersby with a few coins or a bit of food to spare would toss them his way… until Jesus came along and changed everything!
Actually, it wasn’t really Jesus that changed everything for Bartimaeus. All Jesus did was pass by fairly close to where Bart was begging. But Bartimaeus had heard about this Jesus, and he decided to cry out to Jesus for help.
That was an amazingly brave thing that Bartimaeus did… crying out to Jesus for help. It was brave because it opened him up to a lot of flack from the other people in the crowd. It was brave because he risked being ignored or rejected. And it was brave because, if perchance, this Jesus could actually help him to regain his sight, his life would be suddenly and … Read more »
“Love, Not Law”
It should not come as a surprise that Christian churches and other religious institutions are concerned about moral issues. From the traditional issue of couples living together before marriage, to the latest problem of genetic engineering, to the recurring issue of the justification of war, to same-sex marriage, to issues around end-of-life care, churches invest a lot of resources into research, study, debate, and the production of rules, standards, and positions on various issues to help people navigate the confusing world of modern ambiguity.
Although it is tempting to believe that if we could just go back in time (at least as far as the 1950’s) that many of these issues would simply disappear, I don’t believe that there has ever been a time in human history when we have been free from these debates or from the moral dilemmas that create them.
The issue of divorce, we might agree, is not currently at the top of our church’s list of complicated moral issues and debates. And yet, over the years, divorce has been a grave concern that Christian churches were quite worried about. And, it continues to be an issue that the Christian traditions have chosen to … Read more »
The section of Mark’s Gospel that we have been reading from the last couple of months begins and ends with a story about Jesus healing a blind man. In today’s story from chapter 10, the man called Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus in the street. And when Jesus calls Bartimaeus to come to him, the blind man throws off his cloak, springs to his feet, and rushes to Jesus to receive an immediate and miraculous healing.
The earlier story from chapter 8 is similar, but with a few differences. It’s only a few verses, so I’ll read it for us: “Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’ And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
The Gospels are … Read more »
For the last several weeks, our Gospel readings on Sundays have been following through the Gospel of Mark – a series of scripture texts about what it means to be a disciple or a follower of Jesus. Each text has had a unique theme or focus, but the common message proclaimed over and over by the author of the Gospel is that being a disciple is challenging.
There are forms of spirituality and perhaps even some religions that promise only peace and fulfilment, success and happiness, but Christianity is not one of them. And in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus does not sugar-coat the commitment and sacrifice required of those who would follow him and his way with their lives.
My guess is that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were a couple of pretty great disciples. They were among the very first ones that Jesus called, just after Simon Peter and Andrew. James and John were fishermen too, and Jesus found them in their boat mending the nets: “Immediately he called them;” the Gospel tells us, “and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”
The brothers travelled … Read more »
The author of the Book of Hebrews understood the power of God’s Word and the challenge of the call to discipleship. She wrote: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before God no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.”
I wonder… when friends or colleagues ask you about your faith, when they ask you why you come to church, or why you read the bible, what do you say?
Do you tell them that the Word of God is a comfort and encouragement to your soul? Do you tell them that coming to church lifts your spirits and helps you to know that you are loved? Do you tell them that reading the bible brings peace into your heart, especially when you read favourite passages like “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”?
I wonder… have you ever described the Word of God as the author of … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
I have an image in my mind of an elderly man standing beside the grave of his 90 year old sister. Most of the other mourners have started to make their way back to their cars, perhaps to find shelter from the cold, Saskatchewan, winter wind. But this man seems stuck in his position beside his older sister. He is bent low, with his hand on the casket, and he’s praying and crying quietly.
I can see that he is a man of faith. His lips are moving with the words of a prayer he has repeated many times, and every once in a while he makes the sign of the cross and straightens up, as if he is ready to leave. But then he bends again, as if he can’t bear to leave her there. Some younger family members come over to comfort him, and he quietly cries “why? why?” as the tears begin to stream down. He’s the last of his generation still living, and this loss seems too much for him.
“It was her time,” “She’s at peace now,” he hears from those around him. But their words are too easy. Perhaps letting … Read more »