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.

Our Flawed Glory

A sermon preached by Jo Connolly on Feb 2, 2020

Last week Keith and the Fallen Angles led us through reflections on darkness and light and during this fragile and frightening time we hold both in our hearts and in our lives.  As we heard last week, in her poem “Blessed Are You” Jan Richardson said “Blessed are you; who bear the light; in unbearable times, who testify to its endurance amid the unendurable, who bear witness to its persistence when everything seems in shadow and grief.”  These words rung true for me and helped me focus my words for today.  Today we celebrate “the presentation.”  I will try to look at “presentation” from a couple of angles, and ask your indulgence as I present some thoughts for your reflection.

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Darkness and Light

Striving to live fully in all the pieces and places we are

Light and dark are often set up as the primary dualism or binary in our lives. And yet we desperately need both and all the space in between.

Our future as a community lies not in dualism, but in embracing ambiguity and multiplicity.
We can set boundaries and then transcend them.
We can revere the past and let it go.
We can be fearful of the future and thrilled at possibility.
We can love and be annoyed by the same people.
We can be energized by ideas and exhausted by their implications.
We can fear the dark and still need the rest it brings,
We can exult in the light, but be too dazzled to act.

Let us take 5 minutes in this gentle candlelight to personally reflect on the readings I offered today:

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Hope for the world

Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus
Sherman Hesselgrave

Readings: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Vaclav Havel on Hope, Matthew3:13-17
Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

Twenty years ago, on the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus, I was on sabbatical in Italy, and on this particular Sunday I was in Assisi at the Basilica of St Francis. The Abbot began his homily that day by saying, “With the baptism of Jesus we have all been baptized.” I had never thought of it that way before, but he was right. Every baptism has its roots in that moment Jesus stepped into the Jordan River
with John the Baptist. It was a moment of revelation, but also a moment of dedication and commitment to a particular journey. Orthodox Christians kick the significance up a notch by observing that Jesus’ presence in the Jordan River that day had the effect of blessing all the water in the world. So, today is a fitting opportunity to remember our baptism and to reflect on what it means in the world today.

The DNA of what it means to be Christian is embedded in the Baptismal Covenant. We will be invited to renew our baptismal vows in the service today. We will respond, “I will, with God’s help” to questions like:

• Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?
• Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
• Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain, and renew the life of the Earth?

The Golden Rule is baked into the Baptismal Covenant, as is peacemaking and care for the environment. To live our baptismal promises intentionally is to steer the world toward the peaceable kingdom envisioned by the prophet Isaiah and the reign of God that Jesus described through stories and encounters with others. Baptism taken seriously is a sign of hope in a world filled with strife, greed, and confusion. But regard for baptism has somewhat of a chequered history.

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finding a new route home

Homily on the Feast of the Epiphany 2020

Joanna Manning

I know a lot of people in this congregation will be familiar with that popular feminist ballad: ‘Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened.” We’ve even sung it here on a number of occasions.

The chorus goes like this:

Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened
Sometimes I wish I could no longer see
All of the pain and the hurt and the longing
of my sisters and me as we long to be free.”

Please excuse me if I take liberties with the lyrics this morning and change the last two lines :

Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened
Sometimes I wish that I just couldn’t see
All of the pain and the hurt and the longing
of the earth and her creatures as we long to be free.”

Here we are the beginning of not only a new year, but a new decade for earth and all her creatures. As we take a look around, tyrants abound; innocent infants and children are being killed, jailed or dying of hunger and thirst. Assassinations are carried out on the whim of the new tetrarch south of the border. Innocent animals in their millions are dying from the effects of fires, drought, and floods. Definitely not a pretty picture.

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a hole in the wall

Homily for Christmas Eve 2019

Sherman Hesselgrave

“Mercy is the dynamite that brings down walls.” “La misericordia es la dinamita que derriba muros.” That is a line from the new movie, The Two Popes, spoken by the man who would become Pope Francis. That line resonated deeply, and I knew it would work its way into this Christmas homily. That is because the Incarnation—God’s coming among us as one of us—is God’s greatest mercy in bringing down the walls that divide humanity from God and from one another. Someone has defined ‘mercy’ as a “love that responds to human need in an unexpected or unmerited way.” At its core, mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is grace.

Jesus was born into a world all too familiar with systems of domination, systems of empire and oppression that had existed from before the time the prophet Isaiah wrote of the “people who walked in darkness” who would see a great light of a new day of hope and promise, where the yoke of their burdens would be broken; the bar weighing down their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, snapped. A child would be born who would become the Prince of Peace, and would reign with justice and equity.

I decided to include Garrison Keilllor’s retelling of the famous story of the 1914 Christmas Peace, because, in a World War that would result in about 40 million military and civilian casualties, we know that the people on the front lines were not only capable of demonstrating their humanity with a spirit of generosity, they certainly would have welcomed an end to all hostilities, were it not for their imperial masters. Peace was, at once, both so near and yet, so far away.

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