September 23, 2018

Proverbs 31:10-31 Mark 9:30-37 “The Song of Superwoman” The first time I preached on today’s Scripture texts was 15 years ago when I was preaching for a call to St. Andrew’s Church in Saskatoon. I remember thinking at the time how funny it was that on the day I was being considered for a call to my first congregation that the scriptures included an argument between the disciples about who was the greatest and a section from the proverbs beginning “a capable woman, who can find?” I was grateful that it wasn’t actually a competition that day – that they weren’t deciding whether or not I was the greatest – but just discerning whether I was the one being called by God to minister with them at that time. The fact is that competition is all around us. Despite the fact that I grew up in the era when we were exploring “co-operative games,” when children were encouraged to work together, and winning and losing were de-emphasised, I, (like most people) can easily become caught up in competition. Even ministers can find themselves competitively comparing our congregations or feeling proud when our sermons seem to inspire and encourage those who listen. So I think that perhaps all of us can become enthralled with the question of “Who is the greatest?” Who won the Gold Medal? – at the Olympics, or at the church picnic relay race… Who is the smartest?- who got the best grades, or knows the most trivia… … Read more »

February 11, 2018

Mark 9:2-9 “Spitting Image” Earlier this week, as I was reading about and reflecting on the Gospel story about Jesus’ transfiguration, I titled my sermon for today, “Spitting Image.” I hadn’t written the sermon yet, but I was thinking about how the transfiguration on the mountaintop served as a revelation for the disciples. It was an apocalyptic event – an experience in which something that was previously hidden was gloriously revealed to them for the first time. And that new understanding was the reality that Jesus was God’s very own son. Not only did his clothes shine with a heavenly light, and the great prophets Moses and Elijah appeared with him in splendour, but God’s voice clearly declared to the disciples, “This is my Beloved Son. Listen to him!” They had already witnessed some pretty amazing stuff from Jesus with miracles, and healings, and wise teachings that baffled them. But now, his true identity was being revealed in a way that they could not ignore. Jesus is God’s own Beloved Son. He is the “spitting image” of the Creator, standing right in front of them on the mountain, and walking beside them day by day. This morning the choir sang, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King,” and I thought I would preach about the gift of God’s revealing God-self to us in the human person of Jesus Christ. And I thought I would preach about how each of us also – as God’s beloved children, … 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 »