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.

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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Care, Community, and Love

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your eyes, O God.

The best wedding receptions are the ones that are roaring good parties. In my life, I’ve been part of weddings from a lot of different vantage points. I’ve been the maid of honour at a same sex wedding, I’ve had the honour of reading the Ketubah, or marriage contract, at a Jewish wedding. I’ve been a member of the catering staff, and I’ve also been a bride myself. My favourite part of any wedding is the one where the lights are low and all the aunties are dancing in a circle to “Rivers of Babylon” by Bony M or “Jump Around” by House of Pain and it’s about the time when the caterers pack up the bar. At my own wedding, my new husband and I tried my mother sorely by dancing until about 2 am. Respecting her cultural traditions, she wouldn’t leave until we, the newly married couple did, no matter how we encouraged her to go on up to bed. We were ecstatic in the joy of our new marriage, and we danced till we couldn’t dance any more. The memories of these wedding days highlight for me the care, community, and love that made them possible.

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Two girls eating chips and colouring

Hope and her two beautiful offspring

St Augustine of Hippo, the fourth century Bishop of the city of that name is an early church father that I usually love to hate. Augustine has been responsible for much of the fear of women and sexuality that has dogged church teachings throughout the centuries.

BUT Augustine also wrote this memorable phrase about Hope, which is the theme of today’s celebration: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; “ he wrote ( I’ve changed the noun to be more inclusive!) “ and their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” This time he had it dead right. Anger and courage – two of the components of Hope and also two themes running through today’s readings.

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Armistice recording 1911

The Rest Is Silence

Sermon, Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto, November 11, 2018

Readings: 1 Kings 17:8–16; Hebrews 9:24–28; Mark 12:38–44

Hear this sermon as it was delivered:

On November 11, 1918, at 11 AM, the Great War officially ended and the guns fell silent.

That’s not just a figure of speech. It’s not just lofty poetry. Guns kept firing right until 11 o’clock. Artillery kept blasting away. More than 10,000 people died that morning.

Nobody was tape recording the sound; they didn’t have tape recorders. No one was at the front with a wax cylinder to record the sound phonographically. But oil drums in several locations were rigged up to transmit the vibrations for visual recording on a strip of film. They were used for triangulating the positions of enemy guns. They were still in use on the morning of November 11th, and a filmstrip has survived. It looks like a multi-line seismograph. The Imperial War Museum commissioned a reconstruction of the sound. You can hear different kinds of artillery blasting holes in the air more than once a second for a half a minute. And then they stop like a battalion of troops ordered to halt.

The war to end all wars was over.

It didn’t end all wars. We keep shooting at each other.Read More »The Rest Is Silence

painted image of a light shinging through haze

A Cloud of Witnesses (Homily for All Saints)

Wisdom 3:1-9     Psalm 24     Revelation 21:1-6a     John 11:32-44

A Cloud of Witnesses

Sherman Hesselgrave

All Saints is when the universal Church remembers the Christian faithful throughout history who make up the great cloud of witnesses, the communion of saints who surround us and inhabit our memory across time. If I asked you to think of a person you consider to be a saint—someone who has inspired you by their courage or their convictions, someone you aspire to be like, someone who left their fingerprints on your life, I’m sure you could name them or see them with your mind’s eye. Even though they were touched by death, they live on in our hearts and in our memories.

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