2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Mark 6:303-34, 53-56
“Work & Rest”
When I think about the church living through the Covid-19 Pandemic, there are both negatives and positives that come to mind. Certainly, it has been very difficult for us to maintain community, to enjoy worship and sacraments together, and find new ways to continue our mission while keeping each other and our community safe.
But we have learned during this crisis that the church is a lot stronger, more faithful, and more resilient than we might have guessed. And we have experienced what we might only have known in theory before – that the church is not the building, but the people.
God is not confined to our sanctuaries, but meets us wherever we turn to God in praise and prayer. And our job as Jesus’ followers is not just to show up at God’s house regularly to give God glory with our worship, but it’s to glorify God in all the ways we let God make a home in our hearts and in our lives every day.
We knew all that before the pandemic, right? But when you can’t actually “go to church” for many months at a time, that’s when you actually start needing … Read more »
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
“Casting Out Demons?”
In an earlier draft of this morning’s sermon, I started off with an exploration of the major characters in this morning’s biblical texts. I wrote about David, who started out small and became a great king. I wrote about Paul, who was an amazing apostle, but had his own embarrassing past of persecuting Christians.
And even once those two became the wonderful leaders that they were, they still had weaknesses. David let his passion get the better of him, took advantage of his royal position and power, and needed to be corrected by the prophet Samuel.
And although we don’t know much about Paul’s difficulties, we know that he had some. He tells us that he struggled with a kind of “thorn in his flesh” that kept him from perfection so that he had to rely on God’s grace instead of just his own natural ability to be a successful minister of the gospel.
These guys are great examples for us, especially when our struggles are with perfectionism or our ego needs. When we get anxious about doing everything right, doing everything ourselves, and get worked up over the possibility of making a mistake or … Read more »
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Jesus said to his apostles: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.” This has been an interesting text to reflect on during the final week of work before my holidays.
The context for the apostles is that they have been out on the road for some time… preaching, teaching, and healing in Jesus’ name. Remember how Jesus sent them out two by two? He gave them power to do amazing things, and off they went without the security of bringing food, or money, or extra supplies.
In some places they were likely welcomed, and in others the people had no interest in their message. When that happened, they dusted off their feet, and kept going on the mission. Now they are back with Jesus, telling about their adventures… excitedly sharing the moments of wonder and grace when people were healed and lives were transformed… wearily recounting the challenges and disappointments, and how those defeats made them feel as they continued on their way.
Jesus wisely invites his workers to take a break. Perhaps the plan is to spend more time reflecting on the mission so far, and to make plans for the next steps, … Read more »
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
On a first reading, it seems like the connection between the Old and New Testament readings this morning is the theme of dancing. We had David dancing the ark of the covenant into the City of David, followed by some scolding from his wife for making a spectacle of himself. And then we had Herod’s daughter dancing for the entertainment of her father and his guests, followed by an unfortunate turn of events resulting in the beheading of John the Baptist.
Besides the very fact of the dancing, the stories seem otherwise unrelated. The first one is about victory, about giving the glory to God, and about praising God without reserve in song, and dance, and sacrifices of thanksgiving. The Gospel story is about lavish parties, and young women dancing for the pleasure of old men. It’s about violence and murder, cowardice and injustice. It’s about the sacrifice of an innocent person so that a weak king can save face.
Some commentators have pointed out that both kings are playing politics. David is a wise politician, and while the people think well of him, his wife Michal accuses him of false humility. David claims to be dancing … Read more »
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of being invited to commission the Camp Christopher staff and counsellors for the summer ministry that will begin later today when the first group of junior campers arrives for a week at camp. From what I have seen of this particular group of young people, ranging in age from about 15-25 years of age, they will be a wonderful team. They are energetic, enthusiastic, gifted in many ways, and they are full of love and faith to share with the many children and youth that will visit the camp this summer.
The theme for this summer’s Bible study at camp is “Power Up!” and it’s all about the Holy Spirit. And so, during the commissioning service, we reflected together on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at camp and among the staff. We remembered the fact that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God, and that it is poured out on the people of God giving them power to proclaim the gospel in word and action.
We talked about how we will know that the Spirit is working in our lives and relationships because it will … Read more »
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Over the past few Sundays, I have found that the scripture readings have led me to focus on a particular characteristic or virtue that was either demonstrated by the characters in the texts, or called for by the writers. Two weeks ago, I found myself focussed on the virtue of courage. Last Sunday, the texts invited us to explore the virtue of generosity. And today, I guess we need to talk about strength and, surprisingly, also about weakness.
The apostle Paul, continuing his second letter to the Corinthians, demonstrates both his weakness and his strength as a leader in the early Christian Church. What’s happening in this part of the letter is that Paul is trying to convince the Corinthians to pay attention to him and follow his leadership.
There seem to be a lot of different influences in the community, and many of the Christians in this church are being led astray by other leaders who are being touted as “super apostles”. These are people who have been given special spiritual gifts, people who have seen visions and had unusual experiences. When the “super apostles” boast of their experiences, many of the people are … Read more »