Homily for Sunday, May 17

Sunday, May 17 – Reading: Acts 17:22-31

I really like the image of the Apostle Paul going through the city of Athens and looking the place over. Did he look like a tourist or like an anthropologist? We know that he was especially intrigued with the Athenian’s “objects of worship.” He would have studied the temples dedicated to the old Greek gods. He might have run his hands over monuments connected to the Roman imperial cult. People would have hurried past him as his mind mulled over all that he saw. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 17”

Homily for Sunday, May 3

Sunday, May 3 – Reading: Acts 2:42-47

The book of Acts tells us about the early church. Acts is intended to be read as an extension of the story told in the Gospel of Luke. If you would have asked an early Christian how to follow Jesus after the resurrection they would have said, “Come join us and see.” In the minds of those believers there was no such thing as lone-ranger Jesus following. The distinction we sometimes make between spirituality and religion would have made little sense to them. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 3”

Homily for Sunday, April 26

Sunday, April 26 – Reading: Luke 24:13-35

Let’s think for a few moments about the story of the travelers on the road to Emmaus. Do you remember their marvelous response after figuring out that they had been walking with Jesus all day? Did you catch it? Thinking back, the travelers said this: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, April 26”

Homily for Sunday, April 19

Sunday, April 19 – Readings: John 20:19-23 and I Peter 1:3-9

In the gospel of John we read that after the resurrection, Jesus’s disciples self-isolate in one house. They lock the doors. The beauty (and terror) of the story is that even then Jesus shows up and shows up with reinforcements. He brings the Holy Spirit. He shares that Spirit in a way that violates our public health guidelines. He breathes on people—deliberately. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, April 19”

A Palm Sunday Homily

Like churches around the world, the one that I pastor here in Ottawa has been unable to meet for several weeks. To encourage our congregants to still engage in worship, we have sent out simple liturgies (worship guides) for each Sunday. Worship is an active and intentional practice. It’s different from consuming media, even if those media are sermons or worship songs. Along with each of the liturgies we’ve sent, I’ve included a short homily. Below is an audio version of what I’ve shared for Palm Sunday.

Viral Theology #5 – Horses in Tinsel

This surreal situation continues. Over the weekend my household was surprised when the dog starting barking and we heard a commotion outside. There hasn’t been much outside noise these last couple of weeks. Garbage has been collected (thankfully) and a few delivery vehicles have driven through the neighbourhood. Kids are occasionally in the street playing basketball or hockey. There are more walkers out during the day than usual, but there isn’t much going on. The barking and commotion had us all running to the front windows. Continue reading “Viral Theology #5 – Horses in Tinsel”

Viral Theology #2 – Time for a Pilgrim’s Psalm

The man behind the counter told us that his daughter worked at a hospital. “She has to carry extra gloves with her at all times. The supplies are now kept in a locked room.” Apparently earlier that day the hospital’s security had stopped a man heading out the door with a cart full of hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. The same day there was a New York Times story about a man hoarding thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer with the goal of selling them at vastly inflated prices (he later donated the lot). These kinds of stories are scary because they reveal the truth of our vulnerability. Continue reading “Viral Theology #2 – Time for a Pilgrim’s Psalm”

Viral Theology #1 – Social Distancing and the Scabs of Leviticus

Not long ago I read Ellen Davis’s book Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture. It’s a book of serious scholarship, not something you pick up for light evening reading. One of the things her book convinced me of is the enduring value of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) for everyday sorts of things—things like how we should treat animals, how we should care for land, how we should care for the vulnerable, how we should approach work and entrepreneurship—those kinds of things. I’ve had her book in the back of my mind as we’ve moved into this strange new reality of living through a global pandemic. Continue reading “Viral Theology #1 – Social Distancing and the Scabs of Leviticus”

Division, Wisdom, Christ Crucified—A February Sermon

Paul wrote the letter we know as I Corinthians to deal with divisions in that community. There were many sources of division there. One was related to leadership. Some said they followed Paul. Some said they followed Peter. Some said they followed Apollos. And some tried to trump everyone else, by saying “I just follow Jesus.”

Paul responds to them all by saying something like: “Come on. Get it together. Was I crucified for you? Was Apollos? Where you baptized in my name? I’m glad I didn’t baptize any of you, so you can’t get confused about where your loyalties lie.”

Then Paul seems to think for a moment before continuing. “Well, okay, I did baptize Crispus and Gaius. But still, it’s Jesus who is your true leader.” Continue reading “Division, Wisdom, Christ Crucified—A February Sermon”

A New Mysticism for a New Year – A January Sermon

It is less common today than it used to be, but there once was a time when every household had one person who was almost always left out of group pictures. It might have been one particular friend, or mom or dad, or a certain relative, but there was almost always one person absent from visual records. This was the person that usually took the pictures. Any outsider looking through the photo album could be forgiven for thinking that person was not an important member of the household. Continue reading “A New Mysticism for a New Year – A January Sermon”