Category Archives: Sermons

Reflections given as sermons or homilies at a public service. Members of our community take it in turns to preach to the whole community.

God of extravagant love

Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 125, John 12:1-8,
and “The Heavens Torn Apart” – John Terpstra

Joanna Manning


The readings today are full of the promise of restoration. Isaiah has rivers gushing in the desert; the psalmist sings of those who sowed with tears reaping with joy and carrying home their sheaves; Paul tells us to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead; and in John’s gospel, Mary of Bethany pours out a jar of costly ointment which fills the whole house with its fragrance.

 And So we read about a God who breaks boundaries, does new things, a God of surprises, and a God of extravagant love! This is the thread that runs like gold through the readings of today, culminating in John’s account of the anointing of Jesus’s feet by Mary of Bethany then drying them with the strands of her lustrous long hair.

So in this gospel, after the raising of Lazarus, Jesus has returned again to the house at Bethany. It is possibly his last stop before he enters Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus feels safe here. Elsewhere Jesus has spoken wistfully about the birds of the air having a nest to shelter themselves, but he has nowhere to lay his head. But it does appear that he was a familiar and much loved guest here. It was a safe refuge, possibly the closest Jesus came anywhere to feeling at home and amongst friends.

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Living into Transformation

Homily for Lent 4, March 31, 2019

Sherman Hesselgrave

Joshua 5:9-12     Psalm 32       2 Corinthians 5:16-21  

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

There is no way to write a sermon and be oblivious to what is happening in the world around us. Two weeks ago, on the Ides of March, fifty people lost their lives in a shooting rampage at two New Zealand mosques. Millions turned out around the world to grieve the horrific loss of lives. This week, closer to home, a Muslim woman from Philadelphia was being sworn in as a new state representative in Pennsylvania, and at that legislative session another freshman representative, a Christian, was given the opportunity to offer an invocation. In her minute-and-48-second “prayer” she invoked the name of Jesus 13 times, in such an obviously  targeted way that an offended member in the chamber actually shouted, “Objection!” It was probably foolish of me not to give up Facebook for Lent, since I then felt compelled to find her official FB page and leave a comment. Of course, that released the proverbial Kraken, and a swarm of people who identify as Christian were not going to be convinced that the God of Jews, Christians, and Muslims was, indeed the same God, or that there was anything inappropriate about a politician using the name of Jesus as a cudgel in a secular government setting.

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Homily for Second Sunday in Lent

Homily for Lent 2 (St. Patrick’s Day)

Scripture Readings: Genesis 15:1-12,17-18 Psalm 27 Luke 13:31-35

by Michael Creal

The committee planning for Lent this year chose “sustainability” as a Lenten theme. Sustainability is a term that came into currency at a famous 1987 Conference on the Environment and the economy held in Norway and presided over by the Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundland. She was a major leader at that conference and she defined sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the poor without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It was a conference filled with optimism and promise, and what was called the Brundland Declaration was hailed as the way forward because, it was hoped, the conflict between environmental concerns and concerns about the economy could actually be addressed creatively, without either concern being pushed aside. Maurice Strong, a Canadian, also played a major role in that conference

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Loving Our Enemies?

Homily from February 24 2019 by Jo Connelly

In our first reading from Genesis, Joseph clearly had enemies. In preparation for this homily I re-read Joseph’s history, going back as far as Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel—what tales of treachery and deceit! Joseph was the favoured son of Jacob’s favoured wife Rachel. Not only was he given a very special cloak but he announced to his brothers, dreams suggesting they would bow down to him. His brothers seethed with jealousy and somehow Joseph seemed a bit clueless in the lead up to their plot. Though they had originally schemed to kill Joseph, in the end they put him in a cistern and decided to sell him into slavery. They brought the hated cloak back to their father Jacob covered in animal blood to convince him that Joseph had been killed by an animal.

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What is Love? Homily for Epiphany 4

by Sonya Dykstra

When I was reviewing the various passages in preparation for today, I gravitated towards 1 Corinthians 13, specifically the section on love. It’s a big topic, but I thought to take a stab at it and I want to open my reflection with a poem my good friend Natasha Ramsingh wrote titled,

Love Has Come For Me.

Love has come for me

It stands there
Demanding to be let in.

I thought.

I wanted it

I thought.

I invited it in

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