In the email I sent out to the congregation in preparation for this Sunday, I noted that I would be attempting to preach on Genesis 22 this morning, the story sometimes called “The Binding of Isaac” or “The Command to Sacrifice Isaac.” I mentioned that one commentary describes the passage as “one of the most famous, infamous, vexing, compelling, repugnant, fascinating, horrifying, suspenseful stories in the Bible.” The same author suggests that “It’s a dangerous story, so we have to tread carefully. And it’s a story full of treasure, which is why it’s been prized in both Jewish and Christian traditions for thousands of years.”
This familiar passage comes up in the lectionary once every three years, and many Christians hear it every year at Easter, as it’s one of the key texts in the Easter Vigil liturgy. And yet, it has engendered heated debate over the centuries. Is it a story of an abusive God, a misguided Abraham, religious violence at its worst? Or is it a story of faith and obedience? I remember one summer when it came up in the readings, another preacher was filling in for me while I was away on holidays. She … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie
“The Fear of the Lord”
One of the significant themes in the Book of Proverbs is the “Fear of the Lord,” so I thought it would be a good topic for a sermon during our series on “Pondering Proverbs.” As you pondered some proverbs over the last week, perhaps you came across some of the ones that argue that a healthy fear of God is the proper attitude for human beings.
Of course, there is the famous one from Proverbs 9:10 that is matched by the final line in this morning’s Psalm 111: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” In a book absolutely brimming with wise words and insightful advice, it suggests that the first place to start in growing in wisdom in our lives is with a proper attitude towards God and God’s commands.
From other verses in the book we learn that fearing God means hating evil, pride, and arrogance (Pr. 8:13). Indeed, fearing God will help us to avoid evil (Pr. 16:6). We are told that the fear of the Lord prolongs life (Pr. 10:27), that it is a fountain of life (Pr. 14:27) that it gives … Read more »
Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
“Not the Easy Way”
What interesting scripture readings we have to consider this morning! First we heard the story of Hagar and Ishmael. They are rejected and mistreated by Abraham and Sarah, sent out into the wilderness to die of thirst, but God takes care of them and protects them. God saves them and provides a future for them.
Next we heard from the psalmist who was struggling with some kind of trouble. In the midst of his situation he does not despair, but he calls on God for hope and help. He remembers that God has done wonderful things before. He remembers God’s power and might, and prays that God will help him once again.
Then we had a passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans. The Apostle has just finished explaining that our justification by faith through God’s boundless grace is a free gift from God. God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And then, in today’s passage, Paul says that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death… we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so … Read more »
Last Sunday one of our scripture readings was the Great Commission from Jesus at the very end of Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 28). Jesus sent his apostles out saying: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
By this time in the Gospel story, Jesus is on his way out. He’s gone up a mountain with his closest followers, and he’s well on his way to heaven. He’ll no longer be physically present to lead them and guide them in their new mission.
But the mission isn’t really all that new. Way back at chapter ten of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus had sent them out with a similar task. At Matthew 9:36-38 we read, When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”
It seems … Read more »
Today’s Gospel passage from Matthew consists of some sayings and words of instruction and encouragement from Jesus to his inner circle of followers. In last week’s reading (the first part of chapter 10) Jesus summoned his twelve disciples, gave them power to cast out demons and cure diseases, and sent them out to the “lost sheep of Israel” to proclaim the good news, cure the sick, raise the dead, and generally to do the kinds of things Jesus himself was doing. So, keeping in mind the mission that Jesus had just given to these leaders in his group, let us examine the further instructions that he gives to them.
Our passage begins with a proverbial saying: “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master.” As students of Jesus, the disciples are being told that they will experience the same kinds of challenges and struggles that Jesus did. He was persecuted. So will they be. He was rejected by many. So will they experience rejection. Jesus points out … Read more »