On the Role of the Church in Times of Division

Most of us have been refreshing news websites more than usual these last few days. We’ve done more than a little addition and subtraction related to the number 270. We’ve had a good refresher in US political geography. Our eyes have become quite quick at discerning red from blue, light red from dark red, light blue from dark blue. Some of us have even found ourselves caring more than is natural about the workings of this obscure creature known as the electoral college.  

Whatever the outcome of the US election itself, it is already clear that the social divisions that plague our communities have not gone away. There has been no massive unifying reaction to the presidential term that is about to expire. In that sense the situation in the US remains similar to many other western countries, Canada included. In such a context, we might wonder, what is the role of the church?

Continue reading “On the Role of the Church in Times of Division”

A Homily for Sunday, Aug. 2 – This is a Desolate Place

Texts: Matthew 14:13-21; Psalm 17:1-7, 15

I want to begin with a few lines from Psalm 17. The psalms have a prime place in our worship and spiritual practice. They did for Jesus also. He probably heard his mother sing them when he was very young. Psalm 17 is a prayer.

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;

    give ear to my prayer . . .

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;

    incline your ear to me, hear my words.

Wondrously show your steadfast love,

    O savior of those who seek refuge . . . Continue reading “A Homily for Sunday, Aug. 2 – This is a Desolate Place”

Some Thoughts on Proselytizing

Should Christians still share their faith with those who don’t believe? I understand that in many contexts the answer to that question is obvious . . . though what is ‘obvious’ in one situation is exactly the opposite of what is ‘obvious’ in another. I get asked for my take on this issue periodically. I don’t think I’m asked because my opinion carries any special weight. I think I’m asked because people assume I’m conflicted about the issue. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Proselytizing”

Homily for Sunday, July 12 – The Pressure Sparrows Feel

Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Creator God, in the loveliness and intricacy of your world may we see the beauty of your infinity.  

Canadian birds have recently made an appearance in the New York Times (and the Smithsonian Magazine, the CBC News, ABC News, Popular Science, NPR and even the Technology Times of Pakistan). All of these news outlets have recently run stories about Canadian birds, specifically, about the white-throated sparrow.

In the New York Times Cara Giaimo tells the story this way: several years ago two ecologists were together in some forest in western Canada. One was Scott Ramsay from Wilfred Laurier University. The other was Ken Otter from the University of Northern British Columbia. Scott, the fellow from Ontario, noticed something strange. The birds were singing something weird. His ear had caught the song of the sparrow. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, July 12 – The Pressure Sparrows Feel”

When We Do Not Have a Right to Pray

Imagine someone about to go skydiving. This person has a choice between two parachutes, one is in good shape and has been well-maintained. The other has recently been found under a pile of junk outside the hanger. It’s been bleached by the sun and chewed by mice. Some of the seams are pulling apart. Imagine that the skydiver chooses the old tattered parachute, even though the other one is right there, unused. The choice is politically motivated. “Only ‘other’ people use well-maintained parachutes,” he thinks. “And I’ve got God on my side. I’ll pray this old things holds up. I’ll even pray in a renewed way.” Continue reading “When We Do Not Have a Right to Pray”

Homily for June 28 – The Fire and the Wood

Texts for June 28: Genesis 22:1-14 (Ps. 13)

God tells Abraham to offer his son “as a burnt offering.” If you sit with that command for any length of time, if you allow your mind to move past the trite images that come with familiarity, it begins to feel like the plot of a horror movie. Continue reading “Homily for June 28 – The Fire and the Wood”

Why I’m Not in a Hurry to Re-open Church Doors

Here’s a version of a short piece I wrote some time ago for congregation I serve. It’s probably more relevant now than later . . . .

Not long ago a group of churches and church leaders across the province signed a letter asking the premier to allow churches to reopen at the beginning of the month of June. I did not sign the letter. Continue reading “Why I’m Not in a Hurry to Re-open Church Doors”

Homily for Sunday, June 7

Texts for June 7, Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8

Here’s the image I want you to hold in your head for a few minutes. It’s the image of Earth as seen from space. Can you picture it? Maybe you watched the recent rocket launch and you’ve had a refresher. In the image of Earth I’m thinking of you see clouds swirled around what appears to be a blue and green marble. Depending on your perspective you might be able to pick out the continents. You might see places where the green fades to brown. You might even see city lights or plumes of smoke and dust. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, June 7”

On Talking to Kids about Police Brutality

Our household is not one of those that constantly has the TV on or the news blaring. We don’t even have a TV. I try not to listen to the news when the kids are around. The news is almost always bad. And often the local stuff is the worst. It’s all murder and car accidents and new threats to worry about. My guess is that there’s a connection between being constantly hitched to the news cycle, which gathers the worst bits of info from around the globe, and feeling anxious. Continue reading “On Talking to Kids about Police Brutality”