Acts 11:1-18 Psalm 148 Revelation 21:1-6 John 13:31-35
there is one thing today’s scripture readings have in common, it is
about God doing something NEW. “I give you a new commandment: love one
another.” “Look, I make all things new.” And then there’s Peter, who
clued in to the new thing God was doing after the third memo.
Jesus warned his disciples that God would be doing new things in the future, things they were not ready even to think about while he was yet with them. And, sure enough, it didn’t take long. One afternoon, while he was enjoying his siesta, God gave Peter a vision, which Peter interpreted as a test of his faithfulness to Jewish dietary laws. [A reproduction of Fran Sowton’s painting of Peter’s vision at Joppa is the featured image for this post.] When Peter came to realize that it was not a test, but a message, specifically a message that God was making the circle wider, and he needed Peter to be onside, he made the necessary adjustments, and embraced the new scope of the mission. In this instance, it was Peter’s own religious upbringing that got in God’s way—a phenomenon we will encounter repeatedly throughout Church history.
Continue reading Getting out of God’s Way (Homily for Easter 5)
Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 125, John 12:1-8,
and “The Heavens Torn Apart” – John Terpstra
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.
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.
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
Continue reading God of extravagant love
Homily for Lent 4, March 31, 2019
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.
Continue reading Living into Transformation
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
Continue reading Homily for Second Sunday in Lent
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.
Continue reading Loving Our Enemies?